Centerton wants voters to consider keeping sales tax
Special election scheduled Sept. 12
CENTERTON — The city wants voters to renew a 1 percent sales tax to pay for road work and perhaps a new city hall.
The City Council decided Tuesday in a unanimous vote to put it on the ballot in a special election Sept. 12.
If voters approve, the tax will pay for up to $25.5 million in bonds. Proceeds will largely go for roads, Mayor Bill Edwards said. A portion also will go to either expand city hall or build a new one. A new city hall would be expected to cost $3 million at most, he said.
The tax will last until the bonds are paid off, according to discussion before the council. That could be as long as the 30-year life of the bonds. However, growth of the city increases the revenue from sales taxes. All of the sales tax receipts will go
to pay off the bonds under the measure approved by the council.
“We expect those bonds to be paid off a lot faster than 30 years,” Edwards said.
For example, a similar bond issue and sales tax proposal approved by voters in 2006 and refinanced in 2015 will be paid off this year, 11 years after it was first approved, he said. That is the sales tax this proposal would replace, he said.
Centerton’s sales tax raises about $90,000 to $95,000 a month, according to city figures.
In other council business Tuesday night, businessman Joe O’Connor offered to sell the city 45- acres used for soccer fields for $4 million. O’Connor is a former resident
who moved out of state. The acreage has frontage on Southwest Second Street, whichis also Arkansas 72, across the highway from Talamore Boulevard.
Council members expressed a strong desire to own the property and agreed it was well worth the price, but expressed equally strong doubts the city could afford the land. The city’s annual budget is $ 5.6 million, Edwards said later.
“I don’t see a leprechaun at the end of a rainbow with a pot of gold,” said council member Keith Higginbotham.
Other council members agreed, saying they would talk to residents and, if necessary, have a special meeting to discuss if and how the money could be raised. The council thanked O’Connor and promised him a definite answer within 90 days.
The council and city staff members also discussed how the purchase price alone wouldn’t be the end of the city’s commitment even if they acquired the property. The lot has no parking and, if the highway frontage is developed commercially, no access. A building on the property needs work also, city staff said.
The city could offset at least part of the cost of acquisition by selling the highway frontage portion, but private business ventures and real estate deals aren’t what the city was set up to do, Higginbotham said.
Centerton’s City Council decided Tuesday to hold a special election asking voters to renew a sales tax to pay for up to $25.5 million in bonds. Proceeds will largely go for roads, Mayor Bill Edwards said. A portion also will go to either expand city hall or build a new one.