Leader Blues

Friday, March 28, 2008

TOP STORY > >Gravel Ridge to decide its fate Tuesday

Leader staff writer

On Tuesday, eligible Gravel Ridge voters will make their ways to one of three polling sites to decide the fate of their 2,500-acre rural community.

By the end of the evening, Gravel Ridge will be either a part of Jacksonville or a part of Sherwood.

Eligible voters may cast their votes from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at one of three sites:

Kellogg Valley Baptist Church at 9516 Bamboo

Sylvan Hills United Methodist Church at 9921 Sylvan Hills Hwy.

First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge at 14322 Hwy. 107

Early voters may cast ballots Monday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Little Rock.
So far, 38 Gravel Ridge have cast early votes.

Both cities have sent out mailers urging Gravel Ridge residents to vote. The mailers expound on why one city is better than the other.

Regardless of the outcome, most residents won’t notice many changes.

Addresses and utilities will remain the same. There’ll be a smooth transition from county deputies patrolling the area to city police. Both cities have said they plan to make use of the county’s substation in Gravel Ridge.

The volunteer fire department will remain intact and be the primary responder for emergency calls in the area.

So what will be different?

Both cities have a 2-cent hamburger tax, while the county doesn’t. So, soon after the vote, no matter which way it goes, restaurants in Gravel Ridge will have to start collecting the hamburger tax.

Jacksonville also has a two-cent sales tax, while Sherwood doesn’t, and if Gravel Ridge joins Jacksonville, the added two cents per dollar will be collected on all sales.

But if they go with Jacksonville, Gravel Ridge residents will save about $60 a year in sanitation fees, plus have more trash pickups. By going with Sherwood, Gravel Ridge residents will see no increase in their property tax. With Jacksonville, most residents will see about a $60 a year increase.

Jacksonville was the first to annex Gravel Ridge and set an election date. Sherwood soon followed suit.
When cities initiate annexation procedures as Jacksonville and Sherwood did, both the city and the affected area must vote on the issue.

Jacksonville’s annexation vote—which included Jacksonville and Gravel Ridge voters only—was Feb. 5.

In that election, 3,319 votes, or 66 percent, were for the annexation, and 1,733 votes, or 34 percent, against annexation, but about 70 percent of the Gravel Ridge voters were against the idea.

Sherwood’s vote to annex Gravel Ridge—which included Sherwood and Gravel Ridge voters only—was March 11. In that election, 1,764 votes, or 82 percent, were for annexation and 386, or 18 percent, against. Even the Gravel Ridge residents approved of the annexation.

For absentee ballot information or other voting questions: individuals may call the Pulaski County circuit clerk at 340-8683.