Voters Re-Elect Hudson, Support Tax
NEW REVENUE MUST GO TO PRAIRIE GROVE POLICE, FIRE STAFF
PRAIRIE GROVE — Prairie Grove voters re-elected Mayor Sonny Hudson to a fifth term of office and approved a .50-percent sales tax to hire two new police officers and three more firefighters.
City Council member Doug Stumbaugh also was re-elected to a four-year term to represent
Ward 3, Position 1. Stumbaugh defeated Rochelle Hyler-Caswell. Stumbaugh received 984 votes to Hyler-Caswell’s 788 votes, according to unofficial results from the Election Commission.
The Commission will meet to certify election results at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16.
Hudson acknowledged this year’s race was more difficult than ones in the past but said he did not want to dwell on anything negative.
“It was a tough race but it’s over now,” Hudson said. “I’m looking forward to the future and working on projects we have going on now and what we have planned.”
Hudson added, “We have a bright future and we can continue to work in that direction.”
Hudson defeated challenger J.G. Ward, receiving 1,154 or 61.35 percent of the votes. Ward received 727 votes or 38.65 percent.
Hudson, 64, served on Prairie Grove City Council for 13 years and was first elected to mayor in 2001 during an election to fill a vacancy. He has been a member of the Prairie Grove community for 39 years.
The city’s proposal for a new .50-percent sales tax passed with 1,259 votes in favor of the tax (65.5 percent) to 663 votes (34.5 percent)
against the tax. According to the Washington County Clerk’s Office, the city has 3,688 people who are registered to vote, which means about 52 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in the sales tax election.
The election ballot stated that proceeds from the new tax would be dedicated for police and fire personnel costs. Revenue cannot be used in other areas. City officials estimate the tax will bring in about $273,000 in 2019.
Hudson said the new sales tax will make a “huge difference in public safety” for the city of Prairie Grove.
“I think it’s great that the people supported their police department and fire department,” Hudson said.
Prairie Grove Fire Chief J.C. Dobbs and Police Chief Chris Workman expressed their appreciation to the community for supporting the new tax.
“I’m just excited,” Dobbs said last week. “This is a great step forward for the fire department.”
Dobbs said he honestly did not doubt the sales tax would pass because Prairie Grove residents are supportive of the city’s needs.
“We put information out to make it as transparent as we could and hope everyone understands there is a need,” Dobbs said. “We’re grateful they recognized that.”
Dobbs said three more firefighters will allow the department to have someone on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Workman said he believes the police department and other city departments have a good working relationship with the community.
“Our proactive involvement with the community over time has built a great, trusting relationship,” Workman said.
Workman said two new officers will allow him to create a new full-time detective’s position to conduct investigations and follow up on cases. Another program he hopes to implement in the future is a Citizens Youth Academy, similar to a program sponsored by Fayetteville Police Department.
City Attorney Steven Parker said the new tax will most likely take effect April 1, 2019. The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration requires all new taxes to start on a fiscal quarter. Parker said Prairie Grove will have to wait at least 30 days in case someone wants to file a lawsuit against the election results and then the state has 60 days to notify all vendors about the tax change.
If the tax takes effect April 1, the city will start receiving the new revenue in June. City officials said the new firefighters and police officers probably would start working for the city July 1.