Vot­ers Re-Elect Hud­son, Sup­port Tax


Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Lynn Kut­ter

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.


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