Voters OK proposals in special elections
Benton County voters approved a pair of proposals Tuesday in special elections.
Voters in Avoca approved Sunday liquor sales while annual fire dues will go up in the Beaver Lake Fire District.
In Washington County, Tontitown voters approved a sales tax increase for a water line project.
The Avoca election was the result of a petition drive by two women — Stacey Latham and Stephanie Zortman — who own Two Sisterz Liquor in Avoca. The women said they were responding to comments from customers and their own desire to keep sales tax spent on Sunday liquor sales local, rather than seeing area residents spend their money in Missouri.
The women collected 40 signatures on a petition to hold the special election, two more than the 38 needed, according to the Benton County Clerk’s Office. The women will be assessed the cost of the special election, estimated at $5,000 by the County Clerk’s Office.
According to final, but unofficial results Tuesday, 34 Avoca voters, or 71 percent, cast ballots in favor of the Sunday sales while 14, or 29 percent, voted against the measure.
Residents in the Beaver Lake Fire District approved by a margin of 612 votes, or 67 percent, in favor to 306 votes, or 33 percent, against a proposal to double the annual fire dues in the district to allow the hiring of fulltime firefighters for the fire department. Fire district residents were asked to approve an increase in annual dues from $75 to $150. The dues are assessed on all homes and businesses in the district.
Chief John Whisenant with the Beaver Lake Fire Department said the department is working on a plan to hire enough full-time employees to have two firefighters on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The department also needs to add on to the fire station to accommodate full-time crews and to buy some air bottles for the department’s breathing apparatus, since those the department now uses will expire next year, he said.
Dues have been at $75 a year since 2007, when voters approved an increase from $40, Whisenant said. The proposed $75 increase would cover the anticipated $113,000 annual cost of additional personnel and the needed equipment and work on the station. The department’s dues, which are collected by the county on the annual property tax statements, brought in $174,398 in 2016, according to the Benton County Collector’s Office.
Tontitown voters cast 143 ballots, or 72 percent, in favor and 56 ballots, or 28 percent, against a proposed 0.75 percent sales tax increase to allow the city to change its water supplier.
The sales tax is projected to bring in $45,000 annually to pay for a $7.8 million water line. The tax would sunset after the bond is paid off in 30 years, Tontitown Mayor Paul Colvin said. If approved, the city’s overall sales tax would be 10.5 percent, up from 9.75 percent.
The city would stop getting water from Springdale and build a line to connect to the Benton-Washington Regional Public Water Authority. The authority provides water from Beaver Lake to 13 cities.
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department would allow the city to use its road improvement easement, which will help lower Tontitown’s costs, Colvin said. The 7-mile line will go west from Tontitown, along the right of way of U.S. 412 toward Chamber Springs Road.
Connecting to the authority would eliminate water-use limitations, help Tontitown attract new companies and keep water rates low for users, Colvin said. Tontitown also could keep access to Springdale water as a backup in case of emergencies, Colvin said.
Crystal Parker requests Tuesday an “I voted” sticker to be placed on her forehead from poll worker Connie Oliver. Parker voted in the Beaver Lake Fire Department dues election