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December 15, 2017
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Smith to make a proposal

By Tia Lyons
This article was published September 7, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.

The El Dorado City Council will convene for a special meeting at 5 p.m. today to discuss a proposal from the former general manager of the El Dorado Water Utilities.

A regular city council meeting will follow at 5:30 p.m.

Mark Smith, who resigned in July from his post as general manager of the utilities, has requested that the city reconsider the payout schedule of his severance package.

Instead of a lump-sum payment for the four-month severance, Smith has asked that the amount be paid out over several months and that the city keep him on as a consultant for the EWU during that time.

The allowance would provide Smith the opportunity to reach the minimum requirement of five years to be eligible for benefits from the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System.

Smith stepped down as EWU general manager on July 18, a day after the city council dissolved the former El Dorado Water and Sewer Commission, which had overseen operations of the water utilities for several decades.

Aldermen voted 7-1 in favor of the dissolution — Alderman Billy Blann voted no —, citing ongoing issues and complaints, including poor customer service, inefficiency while making repairs and seemingly an unwillingness by the utilities and commission to address complaints.

Smith was hired in June 2013, nearly six months after he had completed a comprehensive survey of EWU operations, in light of complaints that had been lodged against the utilities then.

Some of the problems and solutions that were identified in the survey revolved around some of the same issues that were cited by the council on July 17.

Many of the issues were addressed after Smith was hired upon the recommendation of Mayor Frank Hash.

With the water and sewer commission disbanded, the city has brought EWU operations under the umbrella of the Department of Public Works.

A new Water Advisory Board has been formed to work with public works to oversee operations and address issues regarding the EWU.

Members include Billy Green, John Page, Phillip Stone, Ricky McDiarmid, and Glenn Holmes, also a former EWU manager.

The city is still working to establish a meeting schedule and framework for the advisory board.

On the council’s agenda for the regular meeting today is a proposed resolution encouraging citizens to prepare for the grand opening of the Murphy Arts District on Sept. 27 — Oct. 1.

The arts and entertainment district, located on the south end of Downtown El Dorado, will launch with five days of concerts featuring some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Smokey Robinson, ZZ Top, Ludacris, Train, Brad Paisley, and Migos.

City officials are asking El Dorado residents to help make out-of-town visitors feel welcome and help clean up the city by focusing on their yards and neighborhoods.

The Department of Public Works is also being asked to pay equal attention to sprucing up side streets around the city as to the gateways and main thoroughfares.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.

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