Now it’s up to us, the voters, to decide if we want to pay an additional penny to get the long-overdue interchange and make utility improvements in the north part of Maumelle.
In its December 4 meeting, the Council voted to put all three ordinances on the ballot for the special election to be held March 13. The only dissenting vote of the evening was Steve Mosley, who voted no on all three ordinances. Our City Attorney Caleb Norris offered this breakdown of the ordinances:
As you have likely heard, the Maumelle City Council recently considered several ordinances related to sales taxes. There seems to be quite a bit of confusion about the ordinances. Hopefully this will help clarify things.
Overview: The City Council recently considered two separate half-cent (0.5%) sales taxes that would raise the sales tax in Maumelle by one percent (1%). The first half-cent sales tax is the Public Safety Tax. The Public Safety Tax would be a permanent sales tax that would replace the Community Service Fee. The second half-cent sales tax is the Infrastructure Improvement Tax. The Infrastructure Improvement Tax would be a temporary sales tax that would go toward one or both of the following improvement projects: (1) the “third entrance” (the “Street Improvements”) and (2) Sewer Improvements on the north side of Maumelle. These questions will be on the ballot at a special election on March 13, 2018.
Public Safety Tax: The City Council considered three ordinances related to the Public Safety Tax: Ordinances 944, 945, and 947. Ordinance 944 levied the half-cent Public Safety sales and use Tax. The Public Safety Tax is a special revenue tax that limits how the City can use the funds. (Note: The City currently has a 1% general revenue sales tax that does not limit how those funds can be used.) Ordinance 944 limits the use of the Public Safety Tax to the operation and maintenance of public safety facilities including, but not limited to, the City’s Police and Fire departments, street and trail repairs, street lighting, and other related public safety facilities and operations. The Public Safety Tax can also be used as a backup to pay and secure the repayment of bonds related the Street and Sewer Improvement Projects, which would be primarily funded by the Infrastructure Improvement Tax.
Ordinance 945 calls for a special election on the Public Safety Tax. The special election will be held March 13, 2018.
Ordinance 947 removes the Community Service Fee if the Public Safety Tax is approved and is collected. The Community Service Fee, which is actually a tax passed at a special election held on October 15, 1985, costs Maumelle residents $6 a month; Commercial and Industrial properties pay an amount based primarily on the size of the building. This tax is billed quarterly and is billed with the Sanitation Fee. Ordinance 947 does NOT repeal the Sanitation Fee. For purposes of repealing the Community Service Fee, it is irrelevant whether the Infrastructure Improvement Tax passes or fails. The only relevant tax for the removal of the Community Service Fee is the Public Safety Tax. The City Council is scheduled to vote on Ordinance 947 at its next regular City Council Meeting.
Infrastructure Improvement Tax: This tax is also referred to as the Capital Improvement Tax, but I prefer “infrastructure” because it better describes its purpose. The Infrastructure Improvement Tax is a temporary half-cent (0.5%) sales and use tax. There are two Infrastructure Projects proposed in Ordinance 946: The Street Improvement Project and the Sewer Improvement Project. There will be TWO questions on the ballot; one for each of the two projects. As such, one of these projects could pass even if the other fails. Regardless of whether one or both of these questions pass, only a half-cent tax would be collected for the Infrastructure Improvement Tax.
The Street Improvement Project (~$16.6 million) is to build a new interchange at the intersection of Counts Massie Road and Interstate 40. This is often referred to as the Third Entrance or Third Interchange.
The Sewer Improvement Project (~$2.33 million) is to build extensions, betterments, and improvements to the sewer system located in the City of Maumelle on the north end of town. You may hear this referred to as the “Pump Station Project,” due to its primary goal of building a sewer/wastewater pump station in the City of Maumelle north of the railroad tracks.
The Infrastructure Improvement Tax is a temporary tax that would only be collected until the approved bonds for the Street and/or Sewer Improvement projects are paid off. Once the bonds are paid off, this tax goes away.
Ordinance 946 calls a special election to be held on March 13, 2018, on the questions of issuing bonds to finance the Street and Sewer Improvement Projects and levies a half-cent (0.5%) sales and use tax to repay the bonds.
This information is NOT meant as an endorsement of any of these proposals. Hopefully, though, it has helped clarify a few things. Please keep in mind that in order to simplify these ordinances, I necessarily had to exclude details. I am happy to answer any questions you may have about these ordinances.
Thank you, Mr. Norris. Much more to come on this.
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 email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, @kneelmore.