Leader Blues

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

TOP STORY>> Cabot sets tax vote for new center, overpass

IN SHORT: Lonoke County Election Commission approves July 12 balloting on millage hike.

By Joan McCoy
Leader staff writer

The Lonoke County Election Commission has approved a July 12 special election in Cabot to increase the city millage to pay for a railroad overpass and build a community center.

Voters will be asked to vote for or against increasing the millage from 3.5 to 4.5 to raise $700,000 for the city’s part of the federally-funded $5 million overpass and for or against increasing the millage to raise $2 million to help pay for the community center.

The overpass, to be built north of the Polk Street railroad crossing, is touted as the only means of keeping buses off the tracks and as the first step toward a north interchange that would connect Highway 38 to Highway 5.

The community center was expected to cost $3.5 million, including $500,000 for site preparation. But last fall the low bid came in at $4.2 million and the price could be even higher now.

If approved the millage increase would add about $20 to the tax on a $100,000 home. The ordinance calling for the election says the millage will be rolled back when the bonds that will pay for the construction projects are retired.

The millage increase is expected to raise about $160,000 a year.

If voters turn down the increase in taxes, the city will not be able to build the community center, and the overpass will have to wait at least until 2008, said Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh.

The council has the authority to raise the millage without voter approval, but if they did, city voters could always bring a petition for referendum and force an election.

A year ago voters approved paying for the community center with existing taxes, saying overwhelmingly that 1 percent of the city’s 1.5 percent hamburger tax and an existing half-mill should be used to pay for the center.

“I think this [upcoming election] is an opportunity for city residents to say we want the center and we’re willing to pay for it,” he said.

Early voting will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, June 27 through July 11 at the Lonoke County Courthouse.

On election day, polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the following polling sites:

Cabot City Ward 1 – Richie Road Gym, 432 Richie Road.

Cabot City Ward 2 – Cabot First Baptist Church, 306 W. Pine.

Cabot City Ward 3 – Victory Baptist Church, 501 N. Lincoln.

Cabot City Ward 4 – Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, 3105 Hwy. 89 S.

If voters approve raising the millage for one project, but not the other, all the new revenue would be applied toward the selected project.