Sherwood mayor rapped by Council on impact fee study UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sherwood mayor rapped by Council on impact fee study UPDATE

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 6:49 AM

Interesting item on Channel 4 last night. More details needed, but it reports that the Sherwood City Council had passed a resolution expressing disappointment in Mayor Virginia Hillman for misleading them on a report they'd commissioned about imposing a development impact fee to generate money for roads and parks.

The Street Committee, along with Parks and Recreation, had suggested a study to analyze impact fees for Sherwood roads and parks.

The Council approved in May and expected the study to be complete within about four months.

According to the council, the mayor had told them in November she had not seen the report, nor was she aware of any of its factual information.

But according to department heads, the mayor had met with them about the study twice, which arrived at the city in September.

UPDATE: I've spoken with the mayor. She disputes the council's characterization and explains some of the politics at work in a statement on the jump. She adds, however, that she hopes the Council won't go forward with impact fees, because it would be "just one more notch" that other cities would use in competing against Sherwood. She says Sherwood doesn't have the potential for dramatic territorial expansion that some cities have and thus has less need for such a fee to build collector roads, though it might have been useful 15 or 16 years ago. "I don’t have anything to be ashamed of," she said. "I am not a liar. People do make mistakes."

Here's a copy of the study, provided by the mayor.

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR HILLMAN


Earlier this year Alderman Heye introduced the desire to implement Impact Fees within the City of Sherwood. Discussion was conducted between several aldermen, as well as mayors within the state who have implemented impact fees. Ms. Heye chose not to share her intent with me personally. I did make it known upon finding out about her intent that I was not in favor of imposing the fees. At the May 2011 council meeting funds were appropriated in the amount of $32,875 for the study. In September 2011 the “final draft” was emailed to staff by Duncan and Associates. I was not involved in the study other than signing the original contract for services nor have I received any type of correspondence from Duncan and Associates. During the November 2011 council meeting, Alderman Heye asked about the study. She went on to say that she had contacted Duncan and Associates and a copy had been sent in September and she wanted to know where it was. My response was that I had not seen a copy of it either. No hard copies were mailed to the City. The company had emailed information back and forth between staff. I was not a recipient of any information from the company directly. My intent of the comment was that I had not reviewed a copy. Upon listening to the audio from last month's meeting, I can see where my comment could be misleading and was not clear. A department head brought a printed copy to my office and the page that recommended $3,800 per house was discussed. At that point, the amount seemed ridiculous. The department heads wanted to know what to do at this point. I made the recommendation to them to just let it rest until it was brought up again since no inquires had been made and it did not seem to be a time sensitive matter. It seemed that the issue had died somewhat and we had plenty of other issues to keep us busy. Apparently discussions have taken place as to just what I did and did not do of which I was not present. Only two aldermen have asked since the last council meeting exactly what happened. I appreciate the efforts of the two to resolve the matter in a professional manner.

It seems that it would have been a much simpler process to contact staff or myself to ask the status of the study rather than to research the telephone number and representative for Duncan and Associates. A simple phone call would have served the purpose.

No Street Committee was held in September due to a lack of quorum. Ms. Heye also missed the October as well as November meetings of the Street Committee. This would have been an opportune time to ask for an update. During the December Street Committee the topic of when the study was received was discussed in depth. Tom Brooks, an Alderman’s spouse and a former alderman himself, attended and addressed the December Street Committee meeting. I reviewed the audio. Mr. Brooks stated that he was livid that the mayor lied and that he would hope that the street committee and council would not let it pass.

Last week Tom Brooks visited our City Clerk in her office. He informed her that there was a move to pass a resolution condemning me for my actions in regards to the impact study. He stated that there were at least five votes committed to pass it. He also stated that he had a very good relationship with Ms. Heye and that he thought he could get her to back down if I was willing to make a public comment regarding the matter. Mr. Brooks encouraged the city clerk to have me call him. The following day he also called the city clerk and again stated he wanted me to call him. I perceived the comments as a threat and have never responded well to them. It is a disgrace to the citizens of Sherwood that anyone would use a city council meeting, a public policy making meeting, to air personal agendas. I represent the citizens of Sherwood not personal agendas. This type of activity is not leadership but rather it is childish. We are making a mockery of the political system. It should not be about power and games but rather about what is best for the citizens of Sherwood. I hope that we can place this behind us and move forward with the tasks at hand.

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