TONTITOWN -- Early voting is underway in a special election to extend the city's 1% sales tax. Election day on the issue is Tuesday.
Proceeds from the tax would go, in part, to refinance city debt, to extend and to improve both the water and the sewer systems of the city and to pay for a new fire station, the ballot measure says. The city's current sales tax is set to expire when bonds issued in 1999 are paid off, according to the city's website and mayor.
Both the sewer and the water improvements would benefit different parts of the city, not just one part of it, Mayor Paul Colvin Jr. said in a telephone interview Wednesday. The water improvements in particular would help the city as a whole by keeping all residents' homeowner insurance rates from going up, he said.
The city's eastern and western ends are served by 18-inch-wide water lines providing plenty of pressure to fire hydrants, but much of the development in between is tied to 8-inch lines, he said. Those need to be replaced and much of the rest of the water system needs repair, he said.
"Interest rates are never going to be this low again in our lifetimes," Colvin said of the cost of borrowing money. "Meanwhile, the cost of construction goes up every day. What we'd pay if we did this pay-as-you-go would wind up costing us more than the interest ever would."
Both the water and sewer systems need expansion to sustain the city's growth, he said.
The special election ballot has five questions.
The first measure must win approval for any of the remaining four to take effect, according to the city's ordinance calling for the election. The first measure would extend the sales tax. The second, if approved, would authorize the city to refinance its remaining $3.4 million in bond debt.
The third would authorize the city to issue up to $4.3 million in bonds for improvements to the water system if voters approve the measure.
The fourth ballot question would authorize issuing up to $4,425,000 in bonds for improvements to the sewer system.
The fifth would allow the city to issue up to $5.3 million for a new fire station. The two-acre site for the fire station near the city park has already been purchased, Colvin said.
Early voting has begun in Tontitown’s Oct. 12 special election at the County Clerk’s Office, located in Suite 300 at the county courthouse, 280 N. College Ave. in Fayetteville. Early voting is available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on business days through Monday.
The polling place on election day will be St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 110 E. Henri De Tonti Blvd. in Tontitown.
A sample ballot is available at the Washington County Election Commission website at https://www.washingtoncountyar.gov/government/departments-a-e/election-commission/october-12-2021-city-of-tontitown-special-election.