The Fort Smith Police Department has proposed a capital improvement plan (CIP) that includes $23.61 million in spending over the next five years on technology, mobility, facilities and sworn personnel. The CIP includes an expense budget of $4.977 million for 2024.
Fort Smith Police Chief Danny Baker said in a memo that the CIP incorporates anticipated use of the one-eighth percent sales and use tax as well as $1 million per year of city general fund money generated in part by the collection of business license fees.
“I have based future sales tax collections on averages collected by the fire department in prior years at a conservative $3.4 million,” Baker said in the memo. “In just the first year of collections for the police department, we are anticipating $3.7 million in sales tax revenue. I expect this number to increase as the Fort Smith economy continues to grow and thrive.”
Baker proposed in April 2022 when the board of directors was seeking a continuation of a sales tax that would partially go to the police department to use revenue from the sales tax to boost all salaries by 23.87% and add five officers a year beginning in 2028 if the sales tax was approved. Aric Mitchell, FSPD public information officer, said the department currently 163, including the chief of police, of 164 sworn officer positions filled.
Almost 57% of city residents in an election in May 2022 approved the 0.75% sales tax extension that will see 83.3% of the tax revenue supporting federally mandated sewer system improvements, with the remainder directed to the FSPD.
The police department’s CIP estimates the FSPD 23.87% pay raise to cost the department $2.652 million for 163 sworn personnel in 2024. A new step schedule, which was approved in January and took effect July 10, takes Step 1 for uniformed officers and corporals from $19.41 an hour to $24.04 or roughly $50,000 a year. Steps are included for sergeants, lieutenants, captains and deputy chiefs. The highest rank listed on the 2023 salary schedule included in the ordinance is deputy chief, Step 3 with an annual salary of approximately $112,551.
The CIP also anticipates approximately $839,682 in technology expense in 2024. That includes areas in accountability; crime prevention, detection and investigation; and officer safety and equipment. Under accountability, $705,081.83 is for the Axon Enterprise contract and annual payment, which includes body worn cameras, in car cameras, storage and Axon Performance and tasers.
Under crime prevention, detection and investigation, the CIP lists an expense of $70,000 next year. It lists $64,600 in expenses for regular replacement of officer service pistols, replacement of aging rifles and purchase of optical sights for patrol rifles.
The CIP calls for a budget of $381,000 in 2024 for mobility, which includes the purchase of three to four primary patrol vehicles. Three to four new primary patrol vehicles also are listed to be purchased in 2026 and 2028. Five to six primary patrol vehicles are slated to be purchased in 2025 and 2027. This is to replace older vehicles in the fleet to ensure it remains operational and able to respond to calls in the City of Fort Smith, the CIP states.
For the criminal investigation department, the CID lists purchasing and replacing four unmarked CID vehicles in 2024. CID does not anticipate purchasing or replacing any vehicle in 2025, though the department will purchase and replace four to six vehicles in 2026, 2027, and 2028.
“This will ensure that our fleet stays operational and will replace any vehicle with high mileage and/or high maintenance costs,” the plan states.
The CIP also expects the purchase of a vehicle for the Downtown Ambassador program and printers to outfit all patrol vehicles, including motorcycles, to transition to e-citations in 2024.
The remaining $1.05 million in expenses budget in the CIP for 2024 is for a second precinct and training facility and downtown renovations.
In August, the Fort Smith Board of Directors authorized City Administrator Carl Geffken to negotiate and enter into a purchase agreement for the acquisition of real property at 4501 Burrough Road in south Fort Smith for a precinct facility. The resolution set a cap on negotiations to not exceed $500,000. The land, which is near Fire Station No. 10, has an existing building that can be modified to meet the needs of the department, the memo said.
The CIP lists $1 million in expense in 2024 for the land purchase, building renovation and expansion “to improve and increase police presence on the southeast portion of the city.” The funds also will be used for a city-owned training facility to house the FSPD training function and Basic Police Academy as well as host regional law enforcement training courses attracting outside agencies to Fort Smith, which will bring an economic impact benefit to the city, the CIP states.
Projects to improve the FSPD department downtown call for funds to be spent in 2024, 2025 and 2026 “to modernize and improve functionality of the downtown police headquarters building.” The projects include HVAC/boiler replacement, remodeling of the Bartlett Community Room and exterior improvements. The cost for 2024 is listed at $50,000.