I attended my first City Council meeting this past Monday. Until then, I had only watched them on video. I knew the tax proposals were going to be discussed, so I figured this might be the one to attend in person. I now have to attempt to understand the proposed ordinances. And I probably have to go to more meetings.
A quick rundown on the proposed taxes:
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 and safety facilities.
2. Ordinance 945 — Providing for a Special Election
A 0.50% sales tax to pay and secure the repayment of bonds approved by the voters.
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 both taxes, one of them or neither.
Just like this column, one of the prevailing themes of the Council meeting was confusion, lack of understanding and preparation. More than one Council member wasn’t prepared to discuss the ordinances. Several citizens spoke against the early election, due to the expense. A couple of lawyers discussed the existing bonds, which almost no one understood.
Another topic discussed was the unpopular and ineffective Community Service Fee. The Council could conceivably eliminate it if the sales tax passes, but that is not guaranteed. This is a topic we’ll save for another column.
A group has formed called Maumelle Vision for the Future, represented by former Council member Marion Scott-Coney. They claim they will raise the money to pay for the special election, estimated to cost $15,000. The group, made up of several landowners and developers, is highly in favor of passing the tax to get the third exchange started and recently launched a Facebook page.
This is the only beginning of this discussion, which I predict will become more interesting at the next two Council meetings when the ordinances will have their second and third readings. If the Council approves the ordinances, then the decision will go to the people in March 2018.
Over the next several weeks and probably months, I will attempt to give you a balanced report and explanation of these ordinances. Meanwhile, I suggest you read the proposals posted at www.maumelle.org. Click on Elected Officials, and open Current City Council Packet. The ordinances are long and complicated, but will be at the core of the discussion for months to come. It’s your money.
I encourage the proponents and/or opponents to hold a town hall-style meeting and present these proposals and their rationale in terms that hopefully most of us might be able to understand.
NEXT WEEK: What do we get for our money?
Veterans Ceremony set for Friday
This year’s Veterans Ceremony will be held at the Veterans Memorial in the Lake Willastein Park at 4 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 10. According to organizer and City Council member Ken Saunders, the time was set to accommodate more working people.
Among the program highlights: the Academics Plus Choir will present a medley of patriotic songs, In the Dogwood Unit of the Girl Scouts will perform the Posting and Retreat of the Colors and lead the Pledge of Allegiance while other Academics Plus students will sing the National Anthem, “God Bless America” and read an essay about Veterans Day.
The keynote speaker will be Col. Robert Dixon, commander of the Little Rock unit of the Army Corps of Engineers. The ceremony will end with dueling Taps by two trumpeters from the Arkansas Honor Guard. Billy Mitchell, 95, a WWII veteran who was a captain and pilot with the Army Air Corps will place the wreath.
Everyone will receive a program and a “Buddy Poppy,” hand-made by a disabled veteran in remembrance of our fallen soldiers through all of our wars.
Maumelle Library closing for four months
It’s hard to believe we will be without our library for four months or longer. The library will be closed starting Monday, Nov. 20, through sometime in March 2018, according to the library’s website. You can still get books on hold through the website and, of course, return books. Complete information is at www.cals.org, click Locations or call 918-3000.
Last weekend for Rumors
This is the last weekend you can catch “Rumors” by Neil Simon presented by The Maumelle Players. Here is the weekend schedule: Friday, Nov. 10, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 11, 7 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 12, 2 p.m.
All performances are at the Shepherd of Peace Lutheran Church, 449 Millwood Circle. Purchase tickets online at www.maumellleplayers.org, or at the door. Adult tickets are $15 and seniors and children under 16 are $12.
The Cock will crow no more
I was saddened to see that Cock of the Walk has closed its doors, according to several social media posts. It was an on-and-off favorite of my family for over 20 years. I will particularly miss the creamy cole slaw, their cornbread and greens and the marinated onions. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the building and the grounds.
See you on the Boulevard. Stop the violence.
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.