Although it was an unofficial meeting, the Maumelle City Council voted during a committee meeting July 23 to draft an ordinance that would refer to voters an updated, scaled back version of Mayor Mike Watson’s original plan for capital projects.
At the last City Council meeting, Watson said that July 13 was the last date to have a bond referral ready to send to voters to vote on in order to collect the tax in 2013.
But Alderman Doug Ladner said his proposal could be voted on in a special October election and still meet the county’s deadline for notice to start collecting the tax next year.
After discussion and pleas by audience members to include an all-season swimming pool, every single council member voted in support of the scaled-back project list.
It would include building a new fire substation on the south end of town in an attempt to reduce the emergency response time, which Ladner said has been averaging eight minutes in some parts of town that are away from the new fire station on Murphy Drive at the north edge of the city.
Ladner, who serves on the Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services board of directors, said shaving 30 seconds off a fire or medical call could save someone’s life.
He also said the city is obligated to extend Counts Massie Road to the land annexed during the administration when Burch Johnson was mayor.
The land, which is owned by Dillards executive James Freeman, was annexed during Johnson’s administration and part of the incentive for him to join Maumelle was the promise to extend utilities and Counts Masie Road.
Last year, the council approved the unusual step of giving Freeman more time to sue the city for noncompliance with that provision.
At the time ,Watson said if the city didn’t offer the extension, then Freeman was planning to ask North Little Rock to allow him to become a part of that city.
His land, which includes several thousand acres, is near the proposed third entrance into Maumelle and is prime residential real estate.
The ordinance the committee could only ask be considered at the next meeting has not yet been drafted, and its final form is subject to the wishes of its sponsors.
Several audience members proposed adding the new all-season covered swimming pool, but several aldermen said the $9 million price tag was too expensive to consider during difficult economic times.