Last week’s City Council meeting dealt a blow to the group pulling for the indoor aquatic center. It now appears that the Council is saying that IF we put the aquatic center on the bond issue agenda and subsequently on the ballot, that it should be coupled with a sales tax to make sure that we can pay the operational costs each year. Those costs are estimated to be in the half million-dollar range per year.
You know my stance on this. It would nice to have an indoor center, but at what cost? And, can it be supported with memberships, event rentals and bond revenues? The answer appears to be no. We would need a new tax to help operate this too expensive facility.
I don’t think any of us would argue about the benefits of swimming, but I want information that assures me the pool is more than a financial roll of the dice that might drain the city’s resources for years to come.
As Maumelle Monitor’s Jeremy Peppas pointed out last week in his article on the Council meeting, "pool users would be paying for the facility three different ways through the millage, sales tax and membership fees."
Add into that the Maumelle service fee, sanitation and POA fees in several neighborhoods and we become one of the most-taxed communities in the state. At some point, you have to say that’s enough.
In case you didn’t know, Maumelle citizens pay a whopping 8.5 percent sales tax as it is. Part of that 8.5 percent tax is a 1 percent added by Maumelle. The other 6.5 percent is dedicated to the state of Arkansas with the 1 percent going to Pulaski County. This is pretty much the going rate in Arkansas. Poor Little Rock and some other cities have a "hamburger tax" added to that.
It’s just a good idea to be aware of what you are already taxed before we blindly approve more taxes. Your vote will determine if we pay more. My vote will be no to the aquatic center. It’s too expensive and there are other priorities that I think are more pressing.
In the same article referenced above, alderman Preston Lewis stated, "To me, it is all or nothing. To have the pool, you have to have the tax."
Mistake in last week’s column
It was brought to my attention that I made a mistake in last week’s column. For some reason unknown to me, I stated that there would be three bond issues on the November ballot recommended by the City Council. Actually, they can put as many as they choose. Sorry for the error. I make them all the time.
What will the survey say?
The mayor tells me that a survey gauging the people’s interest in the various bond issues and city projects will go out at the end of this month. I’m not sure what methodology they plan to use, but I understand it will be mailed to everyone who uses water in Maumelle, which would include most everyone. I assume we’ll have to mail them back in, which insures a low percentage rate of opinions.
While that is good way to get it to the people, we would probably get a more accurate picture if we sent it only to registered voters.
After all, most of us don’t vote. I firmly believe if you don’t vote, you don’t earn the right to gripe.
When you get your survey, please send it in.
Lewis hit on an idea that could work, but might be too late
Also at last week’s council meeting, Preston Lewis proposed that the city look at combining facilities and having a three-story building that would be a town center concept with the first floor being used by the Senior Center.
The second floor would be used for city government and replace City Hall and the third floor would be a ballroom and feature a patio that would look out over Lake Willastein.
Sounds like a great idea. What I would add to that is we sell the "Park on River" to a private concern and let them lose money.
I wish he had proposed it earlier. It might too late to formalize the idea and make it part of the bond package.
Too close to home
Last week’s news of a gun discovered at Maumelle High School was in the least, disturbing. This was a day before the tragic stabbing at a Pennsylvania high school injuring 20 students and a security guard.
It’s happened all too often at too many schools. What do we do about it? It must start at home. Parents and grandparents have to talk with their children and be aware of their moods and actions. More often than not, they need our attention. If we don’t give it to them, they’ll get it another way.
See you on the Boulevard.
Neal Moore is COE (Chief of Everything) at Neal Moore Creative, a PR, advertising and marketing consultancy. If you have a community concern or if you’re just irritated about something contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, @kneelmore.