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Questions answered about Pea Ridge sales tax proposal

by Annette Beard | July 21, 2021 at 6:50 a.m.

PEA RIDGE -- Pea Ridge city officials have hosted several public input meetings on Fridays over the past month to educate voters on the proposed one-cent city sales tax and bond measure on the ballot Sept. 14.

No one from the public attend the first two public meetings, but one person attended the meeting Friday.

Haryle Greene, a former Planning Commission member, asked what portion of the county sales tax is allocated to Pea Ridge and whether the county reimburses the city for fire and ambulance calls outside the city limits.

Mayor Jackie Crabtree said the county turnback is based on population and said residents outside the city limits pay fire dues.

Fire Chief Jared Powell, Street superintendent Nathan See, council member Ginger Larsen and justice of the peace Brian Armas were present.

"To see the real picture, we have the same millage rate and more money coming in, but inflation eats it up even though the dollar amount is more," See said.

"We're seeing a lot of rooftops," Greene said. "There are more kids in school. I remember from my days on the Planning Commission that rooftops will not support schools. What can we do to encourage industry and business?"

Crabtree said he and See had attended a meeting about four months ago learning what is available.

"It would have to be a small industry," Crabtree said. "We're hindered as far as roads. But, unless you have rooftops, you can't get industry."

"We're actively recruiting. They (businesses) have to have the support to be successful," Crabtree said.

See had prepared a presentation to present plans for street upgrades throughout the city. He explained that the cost to pave a road is now $3.5 million for a mile of road. He said the bond would provide the funds for street projects. The sales tax is collateral for the bond and is allocated to repayment of the bond.

At the first meeting, former Fire Chief Jack Wassman said he hopes to hire full-time personnel for the fire and ambulance departments.

"It's hard to keep staff," Wassman said, explaining that all the ambulance personnel are full-time employees of other departments who work part-time at Pea Ridge. "We need to find the funding to staff the ambulance full time with people who are full-time employees of the city of Pea Ridge."

He said a lot of the equipment at the Fire Department was purchased with grants 10 to 20 years ago and most of it is older and needs to be upgraded.

Annette Beard can be reached by email at abeard@nwadg.com.

Print Headline: Sales tax proposal questions answered

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