FCRA Board approves two-year extension for director, 3% pay increases staff-wide

by Aric Mitchell (amitchell@talkbusiness.net) 259 views 

The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority on Tuesday (Jan. 25) approved a two-year contract extension for FCRA Executive Director Ivy Owen. The approval came with a 3% pay increase for Owen, with his salary now $185,299. Additionally, the FCRA Board approved 3% increases for all of FCRA staff.

According to the budget adopted Tuesday, salaries organization-wide are $807,200 with $24,200 set aside for performance increases and $15,000 for potential year-end incentive bonuses. There are 11 staff members – Owen included.

Revenues for 2017 totaled $2.087 million, 69% of which was based on land sales. Land sales either closed or pending in 2017 totaled $2.115 million on 181.01 acres. The remainder of FCRA’s revenues come from leasing, mowing, rail car storage, grants, and the Historic District. Owen said the slower pace of land sales is “a trend that will likely continue into 2018.”

“Land is becoming more scarce, with smaller parcels suited to narrower purposes that are increasing in value daily,” Owen said, observing that “annual revenue projections are less than budgeted expenditures ($2.701 million).”

Owen succeeded current Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders as FCRA Executive Director in 2007. Since the authority began to actively market properties in 2001, it estimates it has driven more than $1.513 billion in public and private capital investment, from businesses like Umarex, ArcBest, MARS PetCare, and Glatfelter; the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE) and its inaugural facility, the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM), which opened to its first class of 150 students in August; and the cities of Fort Smith and Barling.

At the end of 2017, the district reported 2,538 jobs with 3,579 projected based on properties sold. Since Owen took over 10 years ago, the district has generated more than $34 million in revenue and created 1,657 jobs.

Of the capital investments made so far, $563.329 million (37%) has been industrial, resulting in 893 projected jobs. Approximately $391.59 million (26%) has been residential, supporting a 239-job projection. Government investments have totaled $172.03 million (142 jobs); educational, $158.48 million (749 jobs); and commercial/retail, $127.4 million (1,434 jobs).

Rounding out overall capital investments — with sectors accounting for less than 70 jobs each — is utilities/infrastructure at $59.093 million; recreational, $16.275 million; medical, $15.27 million; religious, $8.22 million; the Historic District, $719,238; and nonprofits, $100,000.

The FCRA officially formed in 1997, making 2017 its 20th anniversary. However, it received the 7,057 acres that would become Chaffee Crossing as a result of the 1995 decision by the Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC) Commission to permanently close Fort Chaffee.

The Fort was then an active U.S. Army post with around 72,000 acres. The federal government leased the remaining 65,000 to the Arkansas Army National Guard for training purposes. Of the total, the FCRA has sold off 4,510 acres leaving 2,547 altogether – 1,701 is marketable and the other 846 are “wetlands.”

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