Sherwood voters may be asked during the regular general election ballot in November if they wanted a new and improved city library instead of the original special election date of Aug. 12.
On May 27, the Sherwood City Council voted by a 6-2 margin to approve the first reading of a proposed ordinance that would hold the library property tax levy proposal in November instead of in August. Aldermen Charles Harmon and Ken Keplinger voted against changing the election date.
The amendment to change the date was offered by Alderman Timothy McMinn, who said the public would be better served if the issue were on a general election ballot.
“We have concluded we do need a new library,” McMinn said. “And the police department would go into the old library.”
McMinn said asking Sherwood property owners to pay an additional 1.3 mills should be done on the Nov. 4 ballot instead of a special election.
“When we have an election that is going to require raising taxes, especially property taxes, it would require a bigger turnout,” McMinn said. “Under a special election, you may get 1,500 to 2,000 people to get out and vote but not many more than that.”
McMinn said a general election would be more representative of the wishes of Sherwood residents.
Harmon said he sees the potential of a lawsuit filed against the city if the Aug. 12 special election date is altered.
“We are not the ones paying for this,” Harmon said, adding that supporters of the proposed levy are paying the bill. “One of our most important jobs is being stewards of taxpayer money.”
Harmon said the city should maintain the status quo and put the issue on the ballot since it is costing the city nothing.
“If they sue, it will cost taxpayer money,” Harmon said. “It would be an expense for Sherwood taxpayers. I can’t do that. That’s not being a good steward of taxpayer money.”
Harmon said it isn’t his job to make judgment calls if some citizens feel special elections are unethical.
“Special elections are on the state statute books,” Harmon said. “That is why I can’t support moving it.”
Keplinger said he agreed with Harmon.
“The litigation is probably going to happen if we go to the general election,” Keplinger said.
Keplinger added that he believes people will see a request for a library levy as very positive.
“We need a special election,” Keplinger said. “That’s my two cents worth.”
Alderman Kevin Lilly said he doesn’t see the need to place the issue on a special election ballot.
“I don’t see an emergency to get this issue on a special election ballot,” Lilly said. “I would ask when we vote on the amendment and if it passes, that we leave it at one reading and move on.”
The Council went along with Lilly’s request and the issue will be up for a second at the June 23 meeting.