The Fort Smith Board of Directors is considering an ordinance that would regulate signs on city-owned property.

The city does not allow signs on city rights of way and should have some control over what signs are placed on city property, City Administrator Carl Geffken said.

This issue started when someone approached the Planning Department about putting signs on city-owned property, said Wally Bailey, director of development services, Tuesday at the board's study session.

"I researched city code and couldn't find any specific language regarding that," Bailey said.

People don't usually put up signs on city property without permission, Bailey said. 

At-large Director Tracy Pennartz said she did not want to have an ordinance if it was not needed.

A draft of the proposed ordinance states that the city administrator would have the authority and responsibility to manage the city's real property interests and personal properties and would prohibit placement of non-city signs on city property.

In other business, per the request of At-large Director Don Hutchings, the board had an impromptu discussion with Parks and Recreation Director Doug Reinert about the Parks and Recreation Commission's Wednesday vote to ban tobacco use in the city's parks, which the board could make a final decision on as early as its Tuesday meeting.

At-large Director and Vice Mayor Kevin Settle, who was at the Parks and Recreation meeting when the issue was voted on, said the ban needs to pass.

Ward 3 Director Mike Lorenz's problem with the ban was the question of how to enforce it, he said.

Park staff does not have the authority to issue tickets, Reinert said at the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.

Generally, most people will comply with the rule if they know it's in place, Settle said.

"Go to a college football game," Mayor Sandy Sanders said. "Those stadiums are nonsmoking, and if somebody lights up a cigarette, it's self-policed by people sitting around you."

Ward 4 Director George Catsavis suggested that there be designated smoking areas away from where kids are playing and with trash cans to cut back on cigarette butt litter.

Reinert has had mixed responses from the public concerning the ban, he said. Some have called the ban government overreach, while others support it.

Secondhand smoke as a health hazard, the influence of smoking around children and the litter from cigarette butts were some of the main topics the Parks and Recreation Commission discussed before voting unanimously to ban tobacco in the parks.

"It's hard for (staff) to sit around and pick up cigarette butts," Reinert said.

The ban is consistent with Sebastian County, which has a ban on smoking in county parks.

The directors also reviewed the city's fleet and property insurance.

In March 2016, the city decided to make the transition from Travelers Insurance to the Arkansas Municipal “League” (AML) for its auto, equipment and property insurance coverage, saving $155,670, according to an inter-office memorandum from Purchasing Manager Alie Bahsoon to Geffken.

"We're very pleased with the fleet and property insurance and the changes they've made this year. Not only is the coverage excellent, but it's also been a cost-saving measure for the city," Geffken said.

During a discussion concerning the city's legal services from Daily & Woods, Ward 2 Director Andre Good said that he was not sure that the city's money is best spent on Daily & Wood, noting that his concerns were nothing against the firm. The city has used its services for 40 years and Good said he would like to know if its the best cost-benefit.

"My question is simply, 'Are we getting the best bang for our buck in legal services?'" Good said.

Ward 1 Director Keith Lau said he would like to see quarterly updates on pending litigation.

The Board of Directors' next regular meeting will be 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Fort Smith Public Schools Service Center, 3205 Jenny Lind Road.