The proponents are organized and the opponents are not. Does that mean that the sales tax proposals will pass? Not necessarily. It’s been my experience when people are in the least confused about a tax or millage, they will vote against it. That’s one thing that the Maumelle Chamber of Commerce and the Maumelle Vision for the Future group want to make sure doesn’t happen.
Maumelle Vision for the Future is the most vocal about passing the taxes and its supporters have more or less guaranteed they will pay for the special election on March 13, which could run anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000.
They and the Maumelle Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring the Town Hall Meeting at 6 p.m., Jan. 18 at the First Baptist Church in Maumelle. Are they going to be preaching to the choir? Will there be any opponents there?
An email was sent this week to our City Council from the Chamber: “As our elected representation The Maumelle Chamber would like to give each Council member the opportunity to address the audience as part of our panel. You will each have three to five minutes to give your opinion and background regarding the topic. After all of the presentations have been completed from the Council members, Mayor Watson and Marion Scott we will open the floor for questions from residents. All general questions will be answered by Mayor Watson or Mrs. Scott. Please email me no later than Monday, January 15th if you plan on speaking so I am able to have your name on the agenda. Thank you for your service to our community!”
I encourage Council members to use their time and state their position. They owe that to their constituents. Only Steve Mosley voted against each proposal and against having a special election. The rest of the Council seems to favor the proposed taxes but have not clearly stated their positions. Here’s their chance. They are the ones — with the exception of Mr. Moseley — who put it on the ballot and approved a special election.
Most of the dialogue has taken place on Facebook by the Vision for the Future group and two opposition groups, Maumelle-Discuss the Issues and Maumelle Residents United.
One of the vocal opponents who posts on Maumelle-Discuss the Issues page is Andrew Fong, a Maumelle resident and PhD-level chemist employed by the Food and Drug Administration. I think it would safe to say that Dr. Fong is a fiscal conservative. His biggest gripe with the new taxes is the debt that the city would incur for many years to come.
“One thing to look at is that the capital project half-cent sales tax is also a question of the city borrowing $18 Million for the 3rd entrance interchange and the Morgan area sewer project,” Fong said. “It is estimated to take 20 years to pay off this debt. In the Nov. 20 Council meeting, the Mayor estimated that would make our City’s debt level at $33 million plus one additional outstanding loan for which he did not have an estimate of the balance (Fire station building loan). Councilman Mosley stated he would like to know how much outstanding debt the city has. That’s an excellent question. I’ve started researching typical debt levels of city and state governments to find out whether this additional $18 Million will make us a highly indebted city or not. I found this document, which I will analyze when I get more time.”
“Our city government needs to learn how to live within its needs. Sales taxes are insidious, and even though they say the infrastructure part of the tax is ‘temporary,’ in the 20 years or so that the tax will need to run to pay the $18 million bond off, many people will move in and out of Maumelle. Sometime during those 20 years they will probably come back with another project that needs funding or when the time is right they will move to make the tax permanent,“ Fong says on his Facebook page.
He says he plans to be there for the Jan. 18 meeting with questions in hand and is encouraging others to do the same. I hope the rest of Maumelle cares enough to be there and ask their questions. It’s an important vote and will have a big impact on Maumelle. No question about it.
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.