Missed deadline costly to city of Fort Smith

Missed deadline costly to city of Fort Smith

A missed deadline has cost the city of Fort Smith $253,706.

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — A missed deadline has cost the city of Fort Smith $253,706.

By August 2010, the city was required to notify the Van Buren Water and Sewer Commission of what it owed Fort Smith for water it purchased in 2009.

"To be honest with you, I did not know about that deadline," Kara Bushkuhl, city of Fort Smith director of finance, said.

"It had been several years since I read that (the sale agreement between the cities), and that was a fault of my own."

Then-City Administrator Dennis Kelly probably did not know of the deadline either, she said.

Bushkuhl took responsibility for the oversight but also acknowledged that she likely would have read the agreement again if she had not been told by Kelly to take no action on what is known as a "true up."

In early 2010, the financial analyst in her department responsible for the true-up calculation quit to move to another city. His position was left unfilled to save money, she said.

The Fort Smith Board of Directors fired Kelly in November 2010, saying they wanted the city "going in a different direction."

It was, during in the course of a meeting between officials of the two cities, that C.E. Dougan, who serves on the Van Buren commission, mentioned to Fort Smith Utilities Director Steve Parke the missed deadline.

"The staff doesn't think (there's a way of correcting it)," current City Administrator Ray Gosack said. "We erred in not sending the required information. It's clear, it says 'Within 60 days of the completion of the audit, Fort Smith will send this data to Van Buren.' It's a mandatory requirement, and we didn't meet it."

Gosack said he was unaware of what was going on with the issue in 2010 because Kelly had removed water and sewer from his area of responsibility as deputy administrator.


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