City Council approves Clarissa Brown-Smith as finance director

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Carolyn Roy | News Editor
The City Council confirmed a new finance director at the council meeting Monday.
She is Clarissa Brown-Smith who is currently director of fiscal services at Shriner’s Hospitals for Children in Shreveport where she has worked for nine years. She will start at the City in about 30 days.
Brown-Smith, who was at the meeting, was born and raised in Natchitoches. Her experience includes nine years as CFO and interim CEO at the Natchitoches Outpatient Medical Clinic.

This article published in the Feb. 17, 2022, print edition

Brown-Smith has a degree in accounting from Louisiana College and MBA with emphasis on accounting from Grand Canyon University. She is “nervous but excited” to have the opportunity to join City government and plans to have frequent meetings with department heads.
Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. said he believes Brown-Smith will have a team oversight approach and liked that she has an “how can we get there” attitude. He said she has direct-level experience in finance.
Brown-Smith said she will partner with others rather than being “the no” person. She is familiar with due diligence and documentation of grants applications because of her work at the Natchitoches Outpatient Clinic.
Councilman Dale Nielsen said Brown-Smith has a strong audit experience and liked her “what can we do better” philosophy.
In other business, the council introduced an ordinance that will raise the commercial industrial water rates for two consumers inside the City limits, Northwestern State and Pilgrim’s Pride. A water rate study recommends changes in the water rates to be implement over a seven-year period with a rate of $2.20 per thousand gallons for the first year and a rate of $2.75 per thousand for the following six years. Director of Utilities Matt Anderson said the increase was no surprise since the City began negotiations with the two entities last June. The new rate will become effective March 1.
Another ordinance introduced recommends the lease of 97 acres to Russell and Mary Edith Stacy Farms for a sum of $3,500 per year from March 15 until Dec. 31, 2024. The acreage is at 2738 Hwy. 494 on the west bank of Cane River. Purchasing Director Edd Lee said the lease results in income for the City that does not have to maintain the property.
Another ordinance introduced directs $500,000 from the American Rescue Plan to the Natchitoches Police Department. The ordinance reads that the money will be used for employing law enforcement officers focused on advancing community policing; enforcement efforts to reduce gun violence including prosecution; and purchasing technology and equipment to support law enforcement response. Some of the money will target juvenile crime.
Proposed Ordinance 011 creates a River South Commons Economic Development District and creates a trust fund for incremental tax increases for the district. Developers say the ordinance is necessary to recruit new businesses to the South Drive location of the shopping center.
Proposed Ordinance 012 details a cooperative endeavor agreement between the City and Chick-fil-A Inc. The corporation plans to build a restaurant at the corner of East Fifth and Keyser Avenue. La. DOTD is requiring the corporation to extend or upgrade existing City infrastructure including extensions of roadways and underwater detention and drainage to mitigate storm water impact.
The City will share site development costs of no more than $100,000 for construction of a secondary drive onto Keegan to facilitate access to the traffic light at East Fifth and Keyser. That will consolidate four existing curb cuts and construction of underground drainage projects.
The council will vote on the proposed ordinances at the next meeting.
The council adopted Ordinance 006 to amend the budget to reflect an additional $8 million used for purchase of power from CLECO.
The council proclaimed February Black History Month in the City. Marvin Blake Jr. was chosen to accept the proclamation. Blake has been an educator for 28 years having taught American history and civics. He is proud that Black History is now a TOPS approved course in high schools.
The council adopted three other resolutions in addition to the one that named a new finance director.
Resolution 013 approved a change order for a total of
$5,000 to Phase 3 Street Rehabilitation. It covered the cost to add maintenance on Pavie Street. Resolution 014 executed a certificate of substantial completion for Phase 3.
Resolution 015 authorizes the City to advertise for a new 750 KVA 3 Phase Pad Mount Transformer. It will replace one used at a Tesla charging station at the Exxon station on La. Hwy. 6.
The next City Council meeting will be Monday, Feb. 28. City offices will close Monday, Feb. 21 for President’s Day.