Searcy City Council Members Explain Why It Is Necessary To Make The One Cent Sales Tax Permanent | New


Members of Searcy City Council explained to The everyday citizen this week why they believe voters need to make the city’s temporary 1-cent sales and use tax permanent in Tuesday’s special election.

“There has been a lot of confusion in this election, as unfortunately there has been in all recent elections, as to the real nature of the problem,” said Councilor Don Raney. “Some of the confusing information that is circulating is exactly what you are asking of us city council members.

“Opponents of the issue are trying to confuse this necessary renewal of a one cent sales tax with other taxes specifically dedicated to specific expenses such as A&P. [advertising and promotions] tax, [quarter-cent county] fire support tax, [Arkansas] Highway 13 construction tax.

Raney said that all of these taxes “have been approved by the voters, but for these specific purposes”; however, the A&P tax, which is 1% on prepared foods and 3% on temporary accommodation, was passed in 2019 by council.

Raney said these specific taxes can only be used for those dedicated purposes, while the one-cent sales tax is for city operations “for which we only have a tax base of 1.5. hundred. If we don’t renew that one cent sales tax, our basic operating funds to run the city will be cut by two-thirds. “

“We will not be able to provide the services we need and want to provide and that the citizens of Searcy expect,” he said. “With a loss of two-thirds of these operational funds, quite significant reductions in services and operational functions will have to occur.”

Election day, Tuesday, will be 7:30 am to 7:30 pm at the Downtown Church of Christ, 900 N. Main St., Ward 1; West Race Baptist Church, 1106 W. Race Ave, for Ward 2; Carmichael Community Center, 801 S. Elm Street, for Ward 3; and First Assembly of God Church, 101 S. Benton St., for Ward 4. Early voting at the White County Cooperative Extension Service Office, 2400 Landing Road, ends Monday.

As of 2:24 a.m. as of Friday, 1,246 had voted early, according to White County Election Coordinator Tara McKnight. In the February special election where the imposition of the permanent tax was rejected, a total of 908 people voted early.

City Councilor Tonia Hale said she believes “this tax is important for all city departments, especially salaries, equipment and a sufficient number of staff per department to ensure we are meeting the demands. city ​​needs. A competitive salary keeps good employees.

“We also have infrastructure needs, such as new sidewalks, drainage projects and roads as well as the maintenance of existing structures and equipment,” Hale said. “I love living in Searcy, raised my family in Searcy and am excited to see what the future holds for my grandchildren growing up in Searcy.”

City Councilor Logan Cothren agreed the tax is necessary “in order to continue to be able to effectively meet the city’s infrastructure needs. [and] offer good salaries to our employees. He also believes that it is necessary “to offer leisure opportunities to our citizens, to ensure quality fire and police protection and to invest in economic development”.

Cothern said that when the city tried to operate with a permanent half-cent tax, “our police cars, our sanitation facilities were old and largely worn out, the streets and drainage were not being maintained. in right time ; in other words, we just didn’t have enough money to operate the city effectively.

He said Searcy is at a point where he can keep moving forward on the penny tax or back down.

“Personally, I am for making the penny sales tax permanent and continuing our progress,” Cothern said.

Councilor Dale Brewer said “in 1994, 27 years ago” when the half-cent tax was “passed, it allowed Searcy to provide somewhat better service to people.” Searcy has grown significantly since then, and that amount of revenue is no longer sufficient to provide the services people need and expect.

He said that since the 1% eight-year sales tax, which expires on June 30, 2022, was passed by voters in 2014, “many improvements have been made to the streets, drainage, employees and training, vehicles, sports for young people, equipment in all departments, sanitation services, a much needed new fire station in a more suitable location in the east of the city, a building for the ‘computer science [information technology] service that worked in a police department closet, new swimming pool, etc.

“The city has kept its promises regarding the use of the revenue from the 1% tax. Lots of improvements have been made and better services provided, ”said Brewer. “There are still streets that need resurfacing, problems with drainage and flooding, equipment and vehicles that will need to be replaced, salary increases that are needed to retain valuable employees, vehicles and equipment. that need to be replaced or repaired, and many more that are too numerous to mention at this time.

He said the town had improved considerably and that he believed “the people of Searcy deserve more improvements in the years to come.”

“By renewing the 1% tax, it won’t cost more than what we pay, and it will provide income for Searcy to continue to provide a better quality of life for its citizens,” Brewer said. “I would like us to take a positive approach to the future of our great city and look for ways to improve it. I believe that the renewal of this tax will continue to provide the necessary revenue. “

City Councilor Chris Howell called the tax “crucial to Searcy’s future and the right way forward.”

“With this, we can ensure that first responders and municipal services have the right personnel and equipment,” Howell said. “We can continue to improve our infrastructure, such as modernizing streets and sidewalks. We can use part of the income to strengthen our economic development efforts to attract new industries and businesses. Without it, the opposite will be true and Searcy’s basic needs will suffer and progress will be stifled.

City Councilor Rodger Cargile said the city “must be able to maintain what we have today, while preparing for tomorrow”.

“As our city grows, our needs for improved infrastructure, public safety and quality of life will also increase,” said Cargile.

He said he would like to see a lot of things done with the funds “like more sidewalks throughout our city, continuous improvement of our streets and drainage, our parks and playgrounds being well lit, activities for young and old, and at the top of the list are more jobs and industries brought into the community.

“We just can’t sit around and wait for new businesses to knock on our door,” Cargile said. “We need to be proactive in recruiting industry and commerce. The renewal of a cent will provide essential funds for economic development. We need to be prepared to get businesses to come to Searcy, as cities across the country compete for every new job created. Searcy must be open for business.

He said that being born and having chosen to raise his family in Searcy, “my love for this city is the reason why I do what I do”.

“My hope is that this community will grow and prosper, and that my children will one day have the opportunity to raise their families here,” said Cargile. “I support the renewal of the penny tax because I believe it’s more than getting out of it, it’s about moving forward.”

Councilor David Morris was the mayor of Searcy when the eight-year tax was passed. “The eight-year plan was a much needed boost for Searcy and with it many improvements in infrastructure, necessary equipment and vehicles, and staffing requirements,” he said. “Now, with the eight-year plan set to end in mid-2022, the town of Searcy is at a crossroads with the upcoming Nov. 9 election for the one cent renewal.

“We can vote against the plan to keep the sales tax and go back to simple ‘time stamping’, barely able to keep the day-to-day running of city services. Or we can choose to be proactive and vote to continue the progress that has been made over the past eight years. “

Morris added that “there is so much need for this continued source of income for our city”. Examples he gave were adequate funding for police, fire protection, sanitation, brush and leaf collection, streets, drainage, and parks and recreational facilities.

City Councilor Mike Chalenburg said he believed “Searcy is at a crossroads.”

“Voting yes ensures that the services that the people of Searcy have become accustomed to can continue and improve,” Chalenburg said. “Our first responders and others need support both in terms of salaries and equipment. We must continue to keep the infrastructure in good condition and improve it. Approving this will allow services to continue and position Searcy for the future. “

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