Leader Blues

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

TOP STORY >>Sales tax approved in Austin

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

“We can progress,” said Austin Mayor Bernie Chamberlain on Tuesday night after residents approved a penny sales tax, 40-25.

“We’ll have a little more money to do stuff. Everybody wants stuff done, but we (didn’t) have the money,” she said.

Austin residents imposed a penny sales tax on building materials and appliances purchased elsewhere but delivered to the fast-growing town. The tax also will apply to Austin’s few commercial ventures, including Chamberlain’s grocery station and the local flooring shop, Chamberlain said.

“The turnout was very low,” Chamberlain said. She said her daughter, training in immigration enforcement in Texas, just received her absentee ballot on Election Day, meaning her vote wouldn’t count.

Chamberlain said city water bills sent recently to customers urged residents “Vote yes June 10,” and she said there was talk that the results might be challenged as a result of that.

In Lonoke’s only other election Tuesday, a runoff for JP District 10, voters picked Bill Ryker over Ronnie Evans by a vote of 161 to 119.

Evans and Ryker were the two top vote getters in the May 20 Democratic primary, which also included Wes Clement.

Ryker, a Lonoke florist, is active in the community and serves as the city’s liaison to the state Highway Department on the planned new I-40/Hwy. 89 interchange on the west side of town.