Municipal leaders from Arkansas communities discussed effective ways to provide government services and communicate with constituents Tuesday during a meeting hosted at the Pine Bluff Country Club by the Arkansas Municipal League.
Stephens Mayor Harry Brown, who is also the president of the Arkansas Municipal League, touted the league for allowing elected officials to network, compare best practices and provide even better governmental services.
“We are trying to establish a level playing field for everyone,” said Brown, whose town of Stephens has a population around 830 and is in Ouachita County.
Brown referenced Pine Bluff Alderman Steven Mays, who regularly champions Pine Bluff as a great place to live, work and play.
“We have the same problems as big cities; we just don’t have as many of them,” Brown said. “But they cost us the same. We don’t have the tax base, or the manpower to find the grants that are available to us.”
The Arkansas Municipal League provides a forum through which local officials assist each other, solve municipal problems and voice concerns to state officials and federals officials. The league partners with about 500 towns and 120 limited service-members: housing authorities, counties, and municipally owned utility companies.
Whitnee V. Bullerwell, communications director of the Arkansas Municipal League, explained that the league offers a clearinghouse of information. Its motto is “great cities make great states.”
“I understand what it is like to take time out of your Sunday afternoon to listen to a complaint,” she said. “I know the grocery store trips are three times longer than they should be.”
She touted governmental employees for cleaning parks, paving roads and operating the sewer systems. She said the league performs legislative advocacy, holds seminars, facilitates communication and offers benefits.
“You have thankless jobs in many ways,” Bullerwell said.
Don Zimmerman, executive director of the Arkansas Municipal League, discussed the Arkansas Legislature and its scheduled upcoming session. He referenced proposes changes to existing laws.
He discussed laws dealing with economic development and distributed a questionnaire on gasoline taxes and asked people to answer the questions.