State of the City

January 23, 2018

2018 marks 181 years since the founding of Bentonville. Imagine for a moment the many changes our city has seen. From a small thriving agricultural community to a vibrant 21st century city that has become a destination for regional, national and worldwide travelers. With a population estimated to be near 48,000, Bentonville is known for its welcoming spirit and its “can do”attitude.


City Staff

Bentonville is managed by an extraordinarily professional team. The City’s senior staff lead 466 full-time employees and 159 part-time employees. Our employees are dedicated to providing taxpayers with an “exceeds expectations” return on their investment in city government. Highly educated and certified, the professionals that comprise our team make our city a point of difference.  

Volunteer Award

Home to the world’s largest retailer, a famous art museum and people groups from throughout the world, Bentonville is garnering awards and recognition as one of the best places in the United States to live and work.  The caring and giving spirit of our city was recognized this month when the Governor’s office and the Arkansas Department of Human Services presented Bentonville with the Arkansas Volunteer Community of the Year Award, for the 8th year in a row!  This past year more than 23,000 volunteers from dozens of partner organizations recorded more than 400,000 hours of service resulting in a gift to our community worth in excess of $9.6 million. I appreciate all in our community who selflessly give of their time and resources to assist those with needs ranging from physical to financial.The cumulative effect of these volunteers serves to create a quality of life seldom found in today’s fast-paced society.

Sales Tax Receipts

Bentonville’s 2017 sales tax receipts grew more than 10% over 2016 collections.  Final tax collections for 2017 are more than triple (3X) decade old 2007 receipts.  It is a great compliment to our city when the private sector enjoys the benefits of our growth through increased sales.


New Development


Late last year Walmart announced plans to design and construct a new campus on approximately 300 acres east of the current home office. This project will dramatically add to the already vibrant NWA economy. The project, expected to require more than 5 years to complete, will create additional jobs and tax dollars. I expect the continued growth of this company and its worldwide influence will serve to attract new residents to Bentonville and northwest Arkansas.


Utility Billing


The Utility Billing team managed the collection and administration of more than $90 million from more than 24,095 accounts while providing a high level of professional customer service.  In 2017, Utility Billing implemented an automated phone payment system and new payment website improving our customer’s ability to make payments conveniently.  

Electric Department


In 2017, the Electric Department installed1,120 new meters, raising the total electric meter count to 22,895.  2017 revenueexceeded projections by 6.39%.  The Electric Department also installed orrepaired over 69 miles of overhead and underground wire in conjunction with newdevelopments and roadway improvements.  The relocation of the overhead linelocated on SW 8th Street in anticipation of the road widening, isthe largest overhead relocation in Bentonville’s history.  The design of thenew “J” substation will be completed in 2018, with construction estimated to becompleted in early 2019.  

Public Works

Our Public Works Director oversaw the constructionand completion of the new City Maintenance Facility located on SW 28thStreet. All associated departments were successfully relocated in late July.  This new facility is designed to meet theneeds of our city’s growth beyond a population of 80,000 residents.   Additionally, the director oversaw therelocation of water and sewer utilities associated with the 8thStreet Improvement Project.  Our PublicWorks Director continues to collaborate with the Northwest ArkansasConservation Authority (NACA) and Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) onwater and wastewater discharge issues. 

The public works maintenance team creates the clean,professional and appealing appearance witnessed throughout the City.  Many of the kind remarks we receive fromvisitors regarding the cleanliness of our city can be attributed to the dailywork of this team.  

Transportation

The Transportation Department, in partnershipwith ARDOT, successfully completed the widening of Arkansas 12, / SouthwestAirport Regional Boulevard. This partnership created a five-lane roadway fromWalton & Rainbow Curve west to Shell Road, complete with green spaces andsidewalks.  Also, right turn lanes at theElm Tree/Hwy 72 intersection were added along with signal modifications. Constructionbegan in September 2017 on the Northwest 3rd Street project. Bridgereplacement and widening from Saddlebrook to Coler Creek is underway. Thisproject is expected to be completed in summer 2018.  Pedestrian tunnels, at SE 8th &SE “J” St., are under construction and approximately 60% complete. 

Projects currently in the design phaseare:  SW I Street right turn laneaddition, N Walton/NW 12th/Tiger Blvd. intersection improvementsadding left turn lanes for NW 12th and Tiger Blvd. along with signalreplacement, Town Vu bridge replacement, Watertower Rd/8th Street:extending 8th Street east to Watertower Road and widening WatertowerRoad south to SE 14th Street (Hwy 62), and 8th Streetwidening SW “I” Street to Moberly Lane.  Additionally,plans are underway to install a traffic signal at NW 3rd Street andNorth Walton Blvd.

Municipal Airport

Land has been acquired at the BentonvilleMunicipal Airport for the construction of a west parallel taxiway. Constructionof the turf runway has been completed and approval of the relocated Runway 36Threshold has been obtained.  TheBentonville Municipal Airport is experiencing greater growth and activity thanany time since its creation.

Fire Department

Bentonville Fire Department hired 10 additionalfiremen in 2017.  The Department respondedto 6,341 emergency calls, and reported no fire related deaths in 2017.  The department’s commitment to continualprofessional improvement is validated by 32,031 hours of training for firefightersthroughout 2017. This is an increase of 2,227 hours compared to 2016. Trainingwas specifically focused on leadership, EMS, Rescue, HazMat, and Fire Fightingprotocol.   

The Bentonville Fire Department was honored thisJanuary when it was selected as the winner of the 2017 Arkansas BusinessTrendsetter award for Public Safety.  Anew 137’ aerial truck was purchased and recently delivered.  This integral firefighting tool is expected tobe in operation by the end of January.   Bentonville (FD) apparatus inventory must includeequipment with at least 100’ of aerial capability in order to maintain a class2 ISO rating. 

The newly established strategy for Fire Safetyinspections exceeded projections. Inspectors performed more than 2,000 inspectionson existing commercial structures within Bentonville during 2017.  Additionally, the Fire Department tested andserviced over 1,300 hydrants between November 1 and December 20.  The 2018 Budget includes funding for the designand the site preparation for our 7th Fire Station to be located inthe southwest area of our City.

Human Resources

In 2017, Human Resources conducted a Wage and Salary Survey that coveredmore than 125 positions City-wide.  Surveyresults from seventy public and private employers plus wage and salary datafrom four additional surveys were utilized to validate individual position “payranges”.  Survey results allowed changesto be made to 40+ City positions. This will help keep the City’s pay plancurrent and competitive in the robust regional economy. 

Police Department

The Police Department and Emergency DispatchCenter processed approximately 66,000 calls for service.  On average, dispatch has experienced anincrease of more than two hundred calls each month for each of the past 6years. Approximately 16,000
9-1-1  calls were received at the police department’sCommunications Center.  There was nonotable increase in more serious crimes or crimes against persons and no trendsin criminal activity that should be cause for concern.  One of the few more serious crimes recordedin 2017 involved the early Sunday morning violent armed robbery of a DollarGeneral Store.  Patrol officersinvestigated the robbery and were able to clear it by arrest within 45 minutesof its occurrence. (One of our officers was recognized by the Arkansas AttorneyGeneral for his efforts to solve this case.) 

TheBentonville Bomb Squad finished the year with more than 100 calls for service,including 30 bomb related calls for service.   A new Remotec FX Robot, one of only three inthe world, was also brought into service in late 2017 through a $317,000Federal Grant.

Employee Development


Employee development and retention resulted inour police department ending 2017 fully staffed with 74 sworn officers and 31professional staff members.   A midyear CityCouncil approval created a new Captain’s position; the first addition to the PDcommand staff since 1983.

Safety and Education


Police and Fire Dispatchers implemented andcompleted a 9-1-1 education program for students in local elementary schools.School Resource Officers delivered the G.R.E.A.T (Gang Resistance Education andTraining) program plus Drug Free Benton County presentations.

In response to growing concerns, the departmentoffered presentations based on a nationally recognized Active Shooter trainingprogram to better educate and prepare our own staff, area businesses, churches,and other community members.   

In response to school security concerns, thePolice Department continued its elementary and middle school visitation program.Officers averaged more than 30 random visits weekly, taking advantage ofopportunities to encourage good personal choices at a very early age.  The police department also collaborated withthe Bentonville School District to launch an ongoing anti-drug campaign. 

Dispatch Center

City Council also approved the design andfuture construction of a 25,000 square foot Dispatch Center. This new facilitywill be constructed on property located directly south of the current policefacility.   The new Dispatch Center willbe weather rated and will include space for a city-wide emergency operationsarea.  The new facility will also providespace for CID and an area designed to address operations and training needs.  The existing police facility will berepurposed for uniformed patrol needs with minimal modifications.

Courts

The Bentonville District Court continues to look at ways to improve the court experience and better serve our community. In April, 2016, the District Court launched JusticeWeb, an online portal that allows people to look up cases heard through the Bentonville District Court. This website provides case dispositions, upcoming court dates, current balances owed and information on whether a citation is payable without an appearance in court. The implementation of JusticeWeb has greatly reduced the amount of time court staff devotes to case research and has provided a useful tool to attorneys, record check companies and the general public to access requested information.

Legal Department

In 2017, the City ofBentonville Legal Department handled 3,010 new criminal and traffic cases inBentonville District Court, including arraignment, discovery, plea hearings andtrials. Notably, the department's case load for matters set for trial increasedfrom 791 trial settings in 2016 to 1109 trial settings in 2017.  Thisincrease translates into greater time devoted to trial preparation and witnessand law enforcement coordination as well as additional legal and policedepartment hours dedicated to appearing in court.  

The department alsoprepared numerous ordinances and resolutions, reviewed hundreds of criminalcases for probable cause, provided legal and prosecution support for criminalinvestigations, prepared contracts for approval, negotiated land transactionsand complex regulatory matters and consulted regularly with all Citydepartments to provide guidance and risk management.

The department maintainedits commitment to continuing education and collaboration, attending the NADCPConference on innovative treatment courts, together with the DWI Court Team,including defense counsel, treatment providers, law enforcement andsupervision.  The department also worked closely with respectedcollaboration experts Ken Cloke and Joan Goldsmith, culminating in the City'sonsite training and community dialogue.

Parks & Recreation

Bentonville Parks and Recreation’s CommunityPrograms continue to grow in size and popularity with our citizens andvisitors.  In 2017, Parks and Recreationhosted 140 recreation programs involving more than 237,500 participants.
 
Bentonville Parks and Recreation was recognizedwith two prestigious awards ~ The United States Specialty Sports Associationnamed Memorial Park as the “National Sports Complex” of the Year. The ArkansasRecreation and Parks Association named the Square-to-Square Bike Ride as the“Event of the Year” in the State of Arkansas. 

Melvin Ford Aquatic Center


A $530,000 renovation at Melvin Ford Aquatic Centerwas completed in May, just in time for opening the summer season. Thisrenovation provided a major facelift for this popular 25 year old facility.

Master Plan

Parks and Recreation adopted a new 10 YearMaster Plan, this process included more than 27 public and focus group meetingswith citizen participation and input. The plan provides Parks and Recreationwith a planning document and a Capital Improvement Plan that will continue forthe next decade.
 

Bentonville Community Center

In November the Bentonville Community Centerwelcomed its one millionth visitor.  Thislandmark visit was celebrated on November 13, two years and five months sinceits opening.  Since opening in June 2015,the facility has offered 7,000 swim lessons, 130,000 fitness classes, hosted 80,000children in the Kids Center, and provided countless opportunities for ourcitizens to enrich their lives in what is proving to be a very valuable assetfor our community. 

Trail Projects

Multiple trail projects were completed in southand southwest Bentonville. The Citizens Park Fitness Trail and the Trail of TwoCities are two of the most popular additions.

Library


Bentonville Public Library worked with the BentonvilleLibrary Foundation to reconfigure or “repurpose” specific areas of the facilityto make best use of the existing floorplan. These changes improved connectivity of related spaces and allow librarystaff to share resources while enhancing patron’s library experience.

Special Events

Bentonville Public Library was one of fourteen librariesnationwide selected to host ExploreSpace: A Cosmic Journey. This traveling exhibit was available January throughMarch 2017 and saw more than 7,900 patrons viewing this exhibit.

In April, inconjunction with youth lit fest, a special StoryWalk® was unveiled at TrainStation Park!  Visitors were encouraged to stroll through the park andread one of the featured books. The author and the illustrator were bothpresent.

In September, tenmembers of the BPL staff presented professional development sessions at the2017 Arkansas Library Association annual conference on various library topics. BentonvilleLibrary also hosted an open house event for conference attendees where morethan 100 librarians, library workers and special guests attended.

Community Development Highlights:

  • Estimated Population: 47,645 - up 5% from 2016
  • 459 single family building permits - down 22% from 2016 (2016 was highest since 2005)
  • Average value of new home-$291,569
  • Average size of new home-2,953 sq. ft.
  • Multi-family units -- 400 -- up 59% from 252 in 2016
  • Value of all building permits issued -- 1,562 -- up almost 7% from 2016
  • Value of all residential building permits = $395.1 million

Regulatory Changes


Additional ordinances adopted includeregulations for addressing amendments to the sign code, and adopting national standardsfor determining sight distances at intersections and commercial driveways.

Community Enhancement

Other initiatives designed to enhance Bentonville’s appearance,environment and sense of community included:  tree and flower plantings, tree giveaways,volunteer events, neighborhood meetings and public art.

Bentonville maintained its Tree City USA designationfor the eighteenth year in a row, exceeding the per capita spending requirementfor community forestry initiatives.  Due to a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, the Tree andLandscape Committee was able to give Bentonville residents almost 800 trees.

Tree Planting Blitz

The October Planting Blitz resultedin the planting of an additional 430 trees on 6 public property locations.  
 

Taxi Program


Transportation assistance for low-income, elderly and disabledBentonville residents continues to be offered by supplementing the costsassociated with taxi and Ozark Regional Transit (ORT) fares.  $27,340 taxi and ORT coupons were redeemed by217 approved riders during the past year.

Final Words

AsI begin my 12th year as your mayor, I want you to know that I considerit a great honor to lead the City’s endeavors. I see a bright future for our cityand I commit to lead with a focus on professionalism, character and integrityin all that we do. 

Bentonville is “God blessed” and a welcoming community comprisedof peoples from all over our world. Bentonville is a safe place, a prosperousplace and a place that strives to embrace change and growth in a responsible mannerwhile maintaining a special small town atmosphere.

It is my vision and my hope that our city will always appreciate and respect those who have gone before us. Those whose service often resulted in sacrifice for the liberty and freedom we enjoy today. May those who currently work to keep us safe and protect us from harm be held safe themselves. I pray that the services provided by our city’s employees will be seen as a model for others to follow.

Thank you all ~ may God continue to bless our City, Northwest Arkansas and the United States of America

Mayor Bob McCaslin
City of Bentonville