(By Jamie Henneman/Chewelah Independent)
Council meetings will be streaming online this month…
The new mayor of Springdale is working to make the town’s government more positive and accessible to citizens, starting with a new project to live stream the town council meetings on the internet. Springdale Mayor Liz Calderwood is helping the city to put their town council meetings on the internet starting April 23, in the hopes it will help create more community involvement. The Springdale Town Council meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month at 7pm and will be available at the website: https://springdale.community.
Calderwood said the added technology is one of the ways she wants to make the Town of Springdale more responsive to citizens.
“I decided to run for mayor because I experienced a lot of toxicity in the town council and I was just tired of it,” Calderwood said. “We need to increase community involvement so people know that Springdale is not just a place that says ‘no’ all the time.”
In addition to live streaming the meetings, Mayor Calderwood, an IT professional, hopes to revive the computer center so it can become a positive resource for the community.
“I volunteered as an intern with the computer center that was started in 2010, but many of the computers are now outdated and it needs to be reworked,” Calderwood said, noting she hopes it can become a place that offers internships and options for Springdale’s youth.
Since her election in November, Calderwood has also made some changes in town government by making the town marshal a full-time job to help retain employees. The marshal position, which serves as the sole law enforcement official in Springdale was previously a part-time position that paid $26,000 a year. Calderwood made the position full time and increased the pay to $52,000, hiring Todd Schauls to fill the position. Calderwood herself is not paid as mayor, nor are the five town council members.
“I had spoken to the county sheriff about our town marshal situation and I know there was some frustration in the county that we couldn’t keep the position consistently staffed,” Calderwood said. “So instead of keeping the pay so low that we would just be a training ground for people who planned to leave, we have made some adjustments to try and create more consistency.”
Water system debt
In addition to her other projects, Calderwood said she is serious about finding a remedy to the high water bills that most Springdale residents are paying. When Springdale was forced to do water upgrades to their system several years ago, the city received a $1.5 million grant but also took out a $1.25 million loan for 50 years. The loan payment, which is being made by water customers, drives up the cost of the bill to $150 per month per customer on average.
“We need to lower the water debt. A $150 a month payment is asinine and is grossly negligent on our part,” Calderwood said. “We also need to improve our financial oversite. In the past, no one with a financial background was working for the city and we have had massive findings on our audits with the state. We need to make changes so we can successfully pass the audit process and be qualified for grants in the eyes of the state.”
While these and other long-term issues are on Calderwood’s slate of needed improvements, she is encouraged by the amount of change that has taken place since she was elected last November.
“We are finally getting the town council members to a point where they are not choking each other out and we have a respectful and professional atmosphere,” Calderwood noted. “I believe in leading by example and I hope we continue to have an organic, evolving process into better things.”
By mending some of the issues with city government, Calderwood said she hopes the city can help create a place that “draws people and commerce.”
“I want people to be like ‘I’m in Springdale and it’s awesome’,” she said. “That kind of energy draws people and commerce to our area.”
For more information, visit: https://springdale.community