Maumelle OKs 2 of 3 tax is­sues

In­ter­change, pub­lic safety get nod, sewer ex­ten­sion re­jected

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - ARKANSAS - JAKE SANDLIN

A slim ma­jor­ity of Maumelle vot­ers said yes to a city sales tax in­crease to pay for a new in­ter­change and pub­lic-safety needs, but vot­ers re­jected is­su­ing sewer bonds in Tues­day’s spe­cial elec­tion.

The sales tax in­crease will be 1 per­cent­age point, rais­ing the to­tal tax to be charged on pur­chases to 9.5 per­cent. The to­tal tax in­cludes a 6.5 per­cent state tax, a 1 per­cent Pu­laski County tax and a 1 per­cent city sales tax al­ready in place.

One-half per­cent of the new tax — ap­proved by a mar­gin of just 18 votes, un­of­fi­cially — will be to sup­port a $15.59 mil­lion bond is­sue for the in­ter­change to con­nect Counts Massie Road with In­ter­state 40 and draw traf­fic off an of­ten con­gested Maumelle Boule­vard. That por­tion of the tax is to ex­pire when the bonds are paid off.

The one-half per­cent pub­lic-safety tax, to be per­ma­nent, will help fund city fire and po­lice oper­a­tions and re­place a com­mu­nity ser­vice fee charged for pub­lic-safety costs. Col­lec­tion of the new tax be­gins July 1.

Be­low are the un­of­fi­cial vote totals for each bal­lot is­sue, with all eight precincts re­port­ing.

A one-half per­cent sales

sales tax that now is split 5050 be­tween roads and law en­force­ment needs. That 10 per­cent could go to­ward help­ing the shel­ter raise about $400,000 a year for op­er­at­ing ex­penses, and any ad­di­tional rev­enue could go wher­ever the Quo­rum Court be­lieves it is most needed, she said.

Asked about the im­pact of that pro­posal on the sher­iff’s of­fice, Sher­iff Tim Ryals said, “We are al­ready scrap­ing the bar­rel. … We try to be as fru­gal as we can. … It would be dev­as­tat­ing.”

Ryals said af­ter the meet­ing that the lease agree­ment for the sher­iff’s of­fice to use the South Ger­man Lane prop­erty would take ef­fect April 1 and re­quire a $20,000 an­nual pay­ment to the shel­ter fund.

Com­mit­tee Chair­man Randy

Hig­gins said he thought the jus­tices of the peace would be “good stew­ards” of the tax­pay­ers’ money if they can agree to op­er­ate a joint shel­ter with the city, thereby avoid­ing du­pli­ca­tion of some ex­penses.

“[The city] hasn’t said no,” Hig­gins re­lated. But the city needs more in­for­ma­tion on the county’s plans, he said.

“I know we need an an­i­mal shel­ter, and I’m for it,” but it needs a rev­enue stream for op­er­at­ing ex­penses, an­other jus­tice of the peace said.

Claw­son told the jus­tices of the peace that they can solve the prob­lem.

But she said, “If you knock it down the road two more years, you still don’t have a rev­enue stream.”

It would be best, she said, if the sher­iff stays at the South Ger­man Lane site and the county builds a shel­ter from scratch in­stead.

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