Con­struc­tion firms help boost mill­age cam­paign

Rogers vot­ers passed tax in­crease in May to build two new schools

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - DAVE PEROZEK

ROGERS — Each School Board mem­ber gave $100 to the cam­paign for the 3.5-mill tax in­crease vot­ers ap­proved in May, ac­cord­ing to the cam­paign com­mit­tee’s fi­nal re­port.

The cam­paign raised $37,550. The largest do­na­tions were $7,500 from Flintco, a con­struc­tion com­pany based in Tulsa, Okla., and Mile­stone Con­struc­tion of Spring­dale, ac­cord­ing to the re­port filed Mon­day.

Hight Jack­son As­so­ci­ates, an ar­chi­tec­tural firm based in Rogers, and Nab­holz Con­struc­tion, based in Con­way, both gave $5,000.

Res­i­dents ap­proved the tax in­crease by a vote of 1,728 (58 per­cent) to 1,242 (42 per­cent) in an elec­tion May 9. The in­crease will go to­ward con­struc­tion of the

School District’s 16th and 17th ele­men­tary schools and im­prove­ments to ex­ist­ing schools. The first of those two new schools is set to open in Au­gust 2019; a timetable for build­ing the sec­ond one has not been de­ter­mined.

The fi­nan­cial re­port didn’t make any ac­count of ex­penses paid by the cam­paign. Mitch Lock­hart, a School Board mem­ber who led the cam­paign, said Mark Henry, a Fayet­teville at­tor­ney who served as a con­sul­tant, man­aged all of the ex­penses.

“(Henry) sent me an item­ized list of stuff that he did,” Lock­hart said. “So as we’re col­lect­ing money, we’re just send­ing him checks out of the ac­count.”

Henry sent Lock­hart an in­voice dated May 4 list­ing var­i­ous ex­penses in­clud­ing ad­ver­tis­ing, mail­ers, yard signs and more. Those ex­penses to­taled $43,026. The cam­paign had paid $31,000 as of Wednes­day, leav­ing a bal­ance due of $12,026, Henry said.

Lock­hart said he’s still wait­ing for a cou­ple more checks to ar­rive, adding he didn’t think the cam­paign would bring in enough money to pay the en­tire bill.

Part of that bill is a $20,000 fee Henry charged for his con­sult­ing ser­vices. Any amount the cam­paign is un­able to pay will come out of his fee, Henry said.

“I’m not ex­pect­ing any­thing,” Henry said. “If they pay more, that’s great. I was just try­ing to win. That’s where some elec­tions go. You’ve got to fo­cus on the win.”

Henry said he thought the School Board was “re­ally in tune” with the com­mu­nity, lead­ing to the vic­tory at the polls.

The cam­paign com­mit­tee’s fi­nal re­port was due to the Arkansas Ethics Com­mis­sion by June 8, or 30 days af­ter the elec­tion. It was not re­ceived by the com­mis­sion un­til Mon­day, which was 69 days af­ter the elec­tion.

Com­mis­sion rules state a lo­cal-op­tion bal­lot ques­tion com­mit­tee or in­di­vid­ual who files a late fi­nan­cial re­port shall be sub­ject to a fee not ex­ceed­ing $50 for each day the re­port re­mains un­filed.

The com­mis­sion may ini­ti­ate com­plaints against cam­paign com­mit­tees, but any cit­i­zen may file a com­plaint as well, said Gra­ham Sloan, com­mis­sion di­rec­tor.

The Ben­tonville School District also earned vot­ers’ sup­port of a mill­age in­crease on May 9, a 1.9-mill tax hike to pay for four new schools. Vote Yes for Schools 2017, the cam­paign com­mit­tee, raised $62,549 and spent $58,845, ac­cord­ing to its fi­nal fi­nance re­port. That re­port was filed June 14, six days af­ter the dead­line.

“I’m not ex­pect­ing any­thing. If they pay more, that’s great. I was just try­ing to win.” — Mark Henry, Fayet­teville at­tor­ney, elec­tion con­sul­tant

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