EDITOR’S NOTE: Maumelle Alderman Preston Lewis recently penned this letter to answer some commonly asked questions about the city’s potential bond projects.
Dear Friends & Neighbors:
Recently I have received some correspondence regarding questions related to potential bond projects. For purposes of clarity, here is a frequently asked questions letter to help answer some questions that you might have.
What are these bond projects?
At present the City of Maumelle is considering extension of its current bond issue for a possible 15 million dollars of additional revenue. This extension would not raise the current tax rate; however, it would extend the length of time the city will take in paying off its bond indebtedness.
How will this be decided?
The first step is a vote of the Maumelle City Council to refer a bond question to the voters on the November ballot. Before a vote is conducted, you can expect to see a survey in the mail sometime in May. Ultimately, voters will have the opportunity to accept or reject any projects put forward.
Are there other projects the City of Maumelle is considering?
Yes, the City Council is considering several projects including: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. A new Maumelle Senior Wellness Center Events & entertainment venue Completion of the Diamond Center Baseball/Softball Complex Renovation of the Dean Files City Hall Bldg. An overpass/underpass for Maumelle Boulevard.
These projects have been reviewed by a previous taskforce; although, the City Council is at liberty to come up with additional projects.
How many of these projects can the City refer? Can it choose to reject all of them?
The City Council can choose to refer zero projects or multiple ones. A target figure of 15 million dollars has been suggested for a borrowing limit.
Will the people have a say in this matter?
Absolutely! The City Council and Mayor are currently working on sending out a survey to the citizens to encourage input on residents’ preferences as to potential projects. And as always, residents may contact their Alderman, Mayor Mike Watson, or attend a regular meeting to express their opinion.
Is there a possible sales tax linked to the pool?
Potentially yes. Through my research regarding an indoor aquatic center it became clear that almost every city has instituted some sort of funding mechanism to pay for the annual maintenance and operations of an indoor pool. The indoor aquatic center has to date generated the most feedback and interest of any bond project. While I am awaiting the results of the citizens’ survey, I felt it was fiscally responsible for the City Council to develop a solution for the annual budget demands of an indoor pool. The City of Maumelle currently has a 1% city sales tax rate that generated approximately 2 million dollars of revenue. A 1/4 cent sales tax increase, would generate roughly $ 500,000. The estimated annual cost of an indoor pool has been ranged around $ 400,000. Any additional funds that the City created would go toward the budget of Parks & Recreation.
What if we don’t want the sales tax increase?
Contact your Alderman. If the indoor aquatic center isn’t referred as a bond question, then there will be no sales tax question. If a bond question is referred, it is my intention to simultaneously refer a sales tax question to the voters. To just refer a bond question without a funding mechanism would be fiscally irresponsible.
What if the vote for the bond question passes, but the sales tax fails?
The City Council would be under no obligation to fund the bonds for such a project. In other words, without approval of the sales tax, the City would not construct the pool.
Isn’t this just another attempt to raise my taxes? I don’t want a pool.
Citizens would have the ultimate say in November on their ballots — AS IT SHOULD BE. Throughout the process of reviewing these projects, the indoor pool has generated a large buzz. Is that reflective of the will of the entire city? Maybe not, and the citizen survey will hopefully shed some light on the issue. Nevertheless, there has been considerable interest in such a project for the past decade. Many cities have constructed pools in the last 5 years. One thing is for certain, the demands of several citizens must be considered.
Don’t we have other needs like traffic, schools, and infrastructure?
It’s important that we see the results of the citizens’ survey which should be arriving at mailboxes in the next few weeks. I’m also considering consolidating three projects into one location for cost savings. My core principles tell me to maintain focus on issues like traffic, schools, and growing our city according to the Maumelle Strategic Plan. However, I try and keep an open mind and appreciate the incredible value in listening. At present, I’m 100% committed to the completion of the Diamond Center Baseball/Softball complex. As for the other projects, I am awaiting the survey and further input from the people of Maumelle.
The purpose of this FAQ is to answer some common questions that have been posed in recent months. As always, I welcome any comments and questions you might have.