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Lewis gets indoor pool killed; Proposed sales tax also taken off ballot

A proposed indoor aquatic center is no more for Maumelle after the City Council voted 6-2 on Monday night to take it off the November ballot.

Also removed was a proposed sales tax question that would have been in support of the pool. Proposed renovations to Maumelle’s City Hall stayed on the ballot after Mayor Mike Watson recused on the Council’s 4-4 split.

Watson, as an ex officio member of the Council, can vote to break ties but by choosing not to vote, he, in essence, voted anyway and kept the renovations up to the voters on November.

Those voters won’t be involved in deciding if the Maumelle got an indoor pool though as Alderman Preston Lewis flexed some political muscle to get the question removed from the proposed ordinance.

While the proposed pool wasn’t widely supported in a recent survey of the city, a vocal minority backed it and one person in attendance left the meeting said, as he stomped off, “all we were asking is a chance to vote.”

Lewis said before the vote that the chance of the city passing the pool as a bond measure but rejecting the proposed sales tax increase was a possibility and that “it just wouldn’t be responsible.”

“Quite frankly, I don’t think we can afford it,” Alderman Marc Kelley said and Alderman Ken Saunders said adding a little more than $30 million in debt to the city was akin to

“maxing out our credit card” and would leave the city unable to raise the funds to add streets or develop a proposed third exit.

“This could be the mechanism that takes us out of that,” he added.

Lewis said that “traffic” was the No. 1 concern and that the pool wasn’t a priority when looking at the other issues facing Maumelle.

Not all the aldermen felt that taking the pool off the ballot was a good idea.

“I just believe that the citizens of Maumelle should be able to make that decision,” Alderman Jan Hogue said and “I agree,” said Alderman Rick Anderson.

They were the two aldermen who voted against the removal.

Some were more mixed.

“I support pulling the pool, unfortunately,” Alderman Caleb Norris said.

“We’re not even giving it a chance to fail,” Anderson said.

In the end, it didn’t matter.

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