The bond issue discussion has caused quite a stir in Maumelle. The indoor pool folks are passionate about their $7-million-$8-million project and managed to make a few folks mad. They have bashed some high-profile folks on their Facebook page, accused me of being a “dragon” and have generally approached their opponents as enemies instead of trying to win their support. They can be their own worst enemy.
I know it would be nice to have the indoor pool, but there are alternatives. Those who favor building a pool are welcomed at the Patrick Henry Hays facility in North Little Rock, about 15 minutes away, and I know that a group of them use the Holiday Inn Express indoor pool in Morgan for water exercise classes. I think that is a great idea. One that doesn’t cause all of us to pay for something that maybe we really don’t need. And there is difference between want and need.
But maybe it’s time to back away from these divisive issues and make sure we have our priorities straight. The community survey had less than 50 percent in support of the indoor aquatic center initiative — and less than 30 percent if there is a sales tax tied to it for maintenance and upkeep.
There’s discussion of whether we really need to spend a fortune on renovating City Hall when there is possibility that we could build a combined City Hall, senior center and event center near the new fire station property, which is approximately six acres.
Bottom line, we don’t need to rush into pledging our city to a huge debt.
According to Alderman Preston Lewis, “There have been about 8-9 cities take the plunge (to build an indoor pool) in recent years. All of them had a tax of some form to finance their operation. If you ask those cities about it, half of them will say it wasn’t worth it. The other half say it’s an even split with the tax.
“At the end of the day, people can buy the emotion or they can trust their councilman who has done their homework, attended the meetings, and actually given thought to how it could be funded. I’m opposed to an indoor pool because the survey results showed limited support. Considering some indoor pools are within 15 minutes of Maumelle, it’s understandable that a majority of our residents weren’t interested in the financial liabilities that go with such a project,” Lewis added.
Alderman Steve Mosley communicates regularly with his constituents, of which I am one. He says in his most recent report:
“ I won’t vote for a tax increase and have also dug my heels into the idea of another tax extension of our 6.6 mills of property tax that would be used to finance new bond projects. We are just 1.5 years into an 8-year extension of the 6.6 mills to finance the fire station, a Counts Massie extension to a proposed 3rd I-40 interchange, and a modernization of Crystal Hill Road. Thus, I have stated that I think it’s way too early to be thinking about new bond projects and another tax extension that takes the debt somewhere out beyond 2020.
“Essentially, I am afraid the city could get mortgaged up to the hilt on this type of financing mechanism and not be able to utilize the mechanism in the future if something really important or necessary should arise. I had asked the Mayor for a list of ‘needs’ that might come along in the next 5-10 years and he gave the Council a list of about 24 items. On this list was a possible need for connector roads which could conceivably help us get in and out of town once we get approval for a 3rd entrance.
“I think we should hold off on this general list of ‘wants’ that are being currently touted so that we might have the ability to finance some real ‘needs’ that might arise in the next 2-5 years. My thought is to revisit our situation again 2-4 years from now. If we max out this financing mechanism now, we could be faced with raising other taxes and fees if some real ‘need’ should come along.”
I think Aldermen Mosley and Lewis have it right. Let’s hold off and revisit the situation when we have taken care of priorities, and done a feasibility study on the practicality of building a combined city hall, civic center and senior center. I also would like to see a plan to get us out of the event business by selling Park on the River or find a way to make it profitable.
The Republican candidates for attorney general have made my decision easy and gave me a reason to skip their runoff race. They embarrassed themselves, their party and the office they are seeking. I think I’ll vote for the Democrat, Nate Steel. I don’t need my attorney general saying they are going to fight Obama and Pelosi or be a “pistol packin’ mama. Please.
The day that changed the world
On June 6, 1944, the invasion of Normandy, referred to as “D-Day,” took place on the shores of France. I watched several reports this week as the 70th anniversary of the invasion was celebrated all week with speeches, tributes and tears.
Over 6,000 American soldiers, most teenagers, lost their lives that day so that we could end World War II and live this incredibly free life we have in America. And now most of that “great generation” are gone. Most of the survivors are in the late 80s and early 90s.
See you on the Boulevard.
Neal Moore is COE (Chief of Everything) at Neal Moore Creative, a PR, advertising and marketing consultancy. If you have a community concern or if you’re just irritated about something contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, @kneelmore.