As you read here last week, our city leadership and a few special interests want another penny on your purchase dollar. You already pay a penny sales tax, so this would double your local sales tax. That would put your sales tax burden at two cents, but that’s lower than most cities in Central Arkansas. Most of the other towns around have an advertising and promotion tax, an idea that never made it out of our City Council last year.
I’ve never meet anyone who likes taxes except the tax collector so it becomes our collective obligation to understand what the city is proposing, why it is proposing it and what we get if we decide to go along with it.
To recap, there are three ordinances being considered by the Council, which if approved, would put three separate tax items on the ballot for your yes or no vote on March 2018.
1. Ordinance 944 — Providing for the Levy of a Sales Tax
A 0.50% sales tax for the purpose of the operation and maintenance of public safety facilities.
This half-cent would also make sure we have the money to repay the proposed bonds. This also ensures that there is an ample budget for police and fire. The Community Service Fee is designated for fire and police now. The existing bonds are paid through property tax millage, so are not tied to revenue as the proposed ones are.
2. Ordinance 945 — Providing for a Special Election
This ordinance would put Ordinance 944 on the ballot in the special election and levy’s an additional 0.50% sales tax, which will pay for the water/sewage project and the interchange. These will be two separate items on the ballot.
3. Ordinance 946 — Providing for a Special Election
Both of these ordinances propose a special election to be held in March. We would able to vote for all three initiatives, one of them, two of them or none.
Another important piece of information: according to Metroplan, 77 percent of those who work in Maumelle live outside Maumelle. Therefore, a sales tax would spread the burden to those out-of-towners making purchases in Maumelle, not just the citizens of Maumelle, which essentially is what the Community Service Fee does. And the fee is the same for residents regardless of income or assets.
I talked with Council member Steve Mosley and he said he planned to propose an additional ordinance that would eliminate the Community Service Fee IF the tax ordinance is passed. I think this is key to the tax passing. I don’t think citizens will pass the tax if they don’t have a guarantee that the fee goes away.
As I understand it, all residents pay the same Community Service Fee, approximately $6 a month, and commercial customers pay a fee based on the square footage of their facilities. And your garbage fee is on the quarterly bill also, but there are hopes of moving that to be part of your water bill.
Bottom line according to Marion Scott-Coney, the spokesperson for Maumelle Vision for the Future: “we pass what amounts to a one cent tax and we run water and sewage facilities to land owned by the city near Morgan and we get the new interchange on I-40, making both areas more desirable for commercial development and therefore providing revenue for the city; and in the case of the interchange, helping to mitigate traffic on Maumelle Boulevard. Plus, we provide public safety funding paid for by all users, rather than just by property owners.”
The City Council will meet again on Monday, Nov. 20, at 6 p.m. I think the crowds will get bigger as interest grows in the tax package. I hope to be there, kind of.
Thanks to Marion Scott-Coney for her assistance in helping me sort this out. I still hope the Council will sponsor a town hall-type meeting to allow voters to ask questions and hear presentations.
NEXT COLUMN: Let’s run the numbers and look at a timeline. Who are the special interest groups and why are they interested?
Where will you have your turkey?
If you’re looking for a place that’s close to home and affordable to have your Thanksgiving Day lunch, look no further than the Maumelle Center on the Lake. They will be hosting the annual Old Fashioned Home Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 23, from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under. The food is catered by the Center and is sponsored by the Timmons Arts Foundation and the City of Maumelle. The menu will be turkey, dressing and all the trimmings, including pumpkin pie.
To help you work off the tryptophan, there will be games with prizes. If you’d like to help, they still need volunteers and cakes and cupcakes for the cakewalk. Call Marion Scott-Coney if you’d like to help, 501-454-0643. The Center will be running a shuttle bus every 15 minutes from the Kroger parking lot and providing pre-arranged pick up transportation for residents. Call the Center to arrange transportation.
See you on the Boulevard.
Neal Moore is a public relations and advertising consultant and freelance writer. If you have a community concern, Maumelle news tip or if you’re just irritated about something, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, @kneelmore.