A lot of people are watching the outcome of the Faulkner County wet/dry vote. According to their spokesperson, they feel they will have enough signatures to get it on the ballot for the first time in 38 years. They have until August 5th to get the needed signatures.
For several years, Faulkner County has allowed drinking at restaurants, beginning with "private clubs" a few years ago and now just kind of winking at you when you come in the door.
It basically operates like a wet county except there are no retail outlets. Most Conway people make the trek to Morgan/Maumelle or to Morrilton. The liquor stores want it to stay that way. Just as it was when I was in school at UCA, they would rather everyone make the longer drive instead of just driving down the street. You see, it’s about the money.
Arkansas is an ultra-weird state when it comes to alcohol. For instance, if you go to a four-year college in Little Rock, Fayetteville and oddly enough, Arkadelphia, you have access to booze at restaurants and retail outlets. The rest of the state’s college towns are dry and require a drive of at least 20 to 30 minutes.
On the other side of the issue, retail outlets in Conway — such as Kum and Go and Walmart — would like to have the right to sell alcohol and are funding efforts to make it happen. Obviously, Walmart would love to see the entire state go wet, allowing them to add a profit center in their existing stores in the dry counties. Arkansas is roughly half wet and half dry.
It appears the statewide initiative will not be on November’s ballot because they were unable to get the signatures they needed. So now, we’ll watch Faulkner County in November to see if the Morgan/Maumelle liquor stores will be affected.
I hate to see the local stores lose business, but the wet/dry laws in Arkansas are archaic and regressive. The United States tried to limit access to booze in 1920. How’d that work out?
Who’s paying their service fee? Who’s not? Who cares?
When I moved to Maumelle over 13 years ago, one of the first things that struck me as odd was the "service fee" that the city of Maumelle imposes on its citizens. I believe it’s approximately $75 a quarter with the money helping to fund primarily police and fire departments. That’s about $300 a year per Maumellian. Let’s face it, it’s a tax. And I don’t really mind paying it, so I put "tax" on the memo line of my quarterly check.
When I searched the City of Maumelle website, I couldn’t find anything about the service fee anywhere. So, I suppose unsuspecting people who move here are greeted with this mysterious bill after they move here.
What I want to know is whether everyone paying the service fee? And what happens if you don’t pay it? Well, really, nothing. There are no repercussions or penalties if you don’t pay it, just reminders from the city or a collection agency.
According to the city and in an article in last week’s Monitor, somewhere between 94 to 97 percent of all city residents pay the fees but Alderman Burch Johnson disputes that figure and thinks its time to crack down on the "deadbeats." There are proposals being discussed to tie the fee to the water bill allowing the city to turn your water off if you don’t pay your bill. Works for me.
I will be looking into this next week and we’ll try to get a breakdown from the city on how much money this raises for the city, who’s paying it and who’s not. Let me know how you feel about the fee and did you know about it when you moved here?
Nobody asked me but…
• After reading in last week’s Sports Illustrated about new Texas head coach and Batesville native Charlie Strong, I found myself almost wishing him success and then realized it was the same Texas I have despised all my life. Sorry, Charlie.
• I think we all gave due process to the indoor aquatic center. Unfortunately, some people chose to make it personal and say some things that were inappropriate and childish. That’s called sour grapes and people won’t forget that the next time the initiative is discussed. Don’t blow up bridges behind you. You might need to cross them again someday.
• What’s not to like golf’s new poster boy, Rory McIlroy? His dad bets on him and he loves his mum.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, @kneelmore.