Wednesday, March 14, 2018
A slim majority of Maumelle voters said yes to a city sales tax increase to pay for a new interchange and public-safety needs, but voters rejected issuing sewer bonds in Tuesday's special election.
The sales tax increase will be 1 percentage point, raising the total tax to be charged on purchases to 9.5 percent. The total tax includes a 6.5 percent state tax, a 1 percent Pulaski County tax and a 1 percent city sales tax already in place.
One-half percent of the new tax -- approved by a margin of just 18 votes, unofficially -- will be to support a $15.59 million bond issue for the interchange to connect Counts Massie Road with Interstate 40 and draw traffic off an often congested Maumelle Boulevard. That portion of the tax is to expire when the bonds are paid off.
The one-half percent public-safety tax, to be permanent, will help fund city fire and police operations and replace a community service fee charged for public-safety costs. Collection of the new tax begins July 1.
Below are the unofficial vote totals for each ballot issue, with all eight precincts reporting.
A one-half percent sales tax for public safety.
A one-half percent sales tax to support a bond issue for a new interchange.
A one-half percent sales tax to support a bond issue for sewer extension.
After one week of early voting, all three races were tight. Only the public-safety tax led, 643-620. The interchange bond issue trailed, 648-615, and the sewer bond issue lagged behind, 656-606.
"We worked so hard and we spent a lot of money," said Marion Scott-Coney, chairman of Maumelle Vision for the Future, the group that led the tax campaign through the Maumelle Area Chamber of Commerce. "And it was still so close. We just kept saying every vote counts. And didn't that come true?
"If people don't think their vote counts, they need to look at this and see what a huge difference a handful of people can make," said Scott-Coney, also the newest City Council member. She was appointed by the council last month to fill a vacated position after the campaign had begun.
The Maumelle City Council last week approved annexing 240 acres adjacent to the interchange if the tax passed. Landowners and potential developers were heavily involved in the election campaign.
Steve Mosley, the only council member to vote against calling the special election, said the close vote on the interchange showed that residents were uneasy about increasing the city's bond debt. He said he heard from residents who disliked having a special election instead of it being part of the state primary in May.
"They didn't like the fact that the development community was leading the charge on that," Mosley said Tuesday night. "I think people were also disturbed that the strategy for any of this really didn't seem to come from the City Council. It was just presented to the City Council as kind of take it or leave it."
Scott-Coney said that, to her, residents proved they want Maumelle to move forward.
"People out there really care," she said. "I'm tickled pink."
Support for the public-safety tax was bolstered by the City Council having already approved legislation to eliminate the community service fee, contingent on the tax passing. The $6 monthly fee, begun in 1985 to help fund police and fire protection, is charged quarterly to Maumelle households. The fee is to stop being collected Sept. 1 once the new tax revenue begins being received by the city.
The failed sewer bond issue of $2.3 million was to improve and extend sewer services into the city's north end on properties inside the city limits and some outside the city that were to be annexed if the tax had passed.
Metro on 03/14/2018
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