The Lonoke City Council abolished a city tax during its Monday night meeting.
Before moving into voting on the ordinance to abolish the city’s half cent tax, Lonoke Mayor Wayne McGee took a moment to say a few words to those in the city who believe city officials are not working towards the betterment of Lonoke.
“This bunch (city officials), that don’t do nothing for Lonoke… don’t try to work and don’t do anything, we’ve paid that half cent tax about eight years early,” McGee said speaking to the local naysayers. “Since the second or third year we’ve all been here, I’ve been here a little over ten years, in the last eight years our city sales money has doubled. For all us who don’t do anything or bring anything to Lonoke, I don’t know how you double your tax if your not doing anything. I would like to commend ya’ll and everybody on everything they do. We’re doing a lot more that a lot of ya’ll get credit for. I just want to remind everybody, we’re doing as much as we can possibly do with what we have to work with and we’ve done all of that without being able to qualify for any grants or anything else. I think ya’ll have done an exceptional job and I appreciate all of ya’ll.”
McGee said the tax will come off in April.
“I’ll point out that in that time, we haven’t raised any taxes either,” Alderman Pat Howell said. “That’s just strictly from growth.”
McGee agreed with Howell, adding that there is discussion for passing a new tax in the future to improve the water and sewer structure along with other things in the city.
“I hope by people noticing and seeing what we’ve done, paying this off years early, that we’ll pay the rest of it off years early,” McGee said. “You’ve got my word on that. We’re working harder and harder, and anything we do we’re going to finish early and be done the right way.”
By unanimous vote, the council voted to abolish the one half of one cent sales and use tax levied to pay Lonoke’s 2004 refunding bond issue. The refunding bond was for the 2000 bond issue to finance the community and civic center complex.
In other business, with a split vote, the Council approved to allow a farmers market to be set up the first and third Saturday from May until September in downtown Lonoke. While all were in favor of having a market, not all were sold on the idea of the market being set up downtown. It was suggested the market be set up at the former Pet Co property, to reduce downtown congestion and attract a larger crowd from the heavily trafficked baseball park. In addition, there was also the issue with utilizing the depot restroom for the vendors, which would require an individual to keep watch on the depot if opened during market hours.
Local organic farmer Bruce Edwards, told the council in his opinion, a local site is important for the initial launch of a farmers market and then once established the market can be moved to a more permanent site.
“I think it’s great,” Alderwoman Janie Derning said. “I’d rather have them in the middle of town when they first open.”
“I’m just the opposite, I’d rather have it down there by Pet Quarters,” Alderman Efrem Jones said. “Not everyone in Lonoke is a farmers market person and you’ll inconvenience them in a way, right there in the middle of town.”
After some additional discussion, a motion was made by Koy Butler and was seconded by Michael Florence to set up downtown, at the depot or caboose area, depending on which is available. Butler, Florence, Derning, Walker and Howell voted in favor of the motion. Jones and Woody Evans voted against the motion.
“Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t oppose of having a farmers market…” Efrem Jones said.
“Where it is,” McGee finished Jones’ sentence.
“I’m not opposed of it either,” Evans said. ” I’m not against it because if the price is right, I don’t have to grow a garden.”
Also during the meeting, the Council unanimously approved to:
-Send out letters and table all property discussion until the April meeting
-Purchase a Rheem air conditioner for the ball park concession stand for $4,500, five rolls of AstroTurf for $4,000, a pitching machine from Rayburn Sporting Goods of Cabot for $1,533 and a long wheel based for $19,500 and dump bed for $13,500.
-To increase the total amount of fire truck repairs to $4,757,65 and increase the tripod system purchase amount from $2,550 to $2,663 to include shipping cost.
-Spend up to $50,000 for well maintenance.
-Send $15,000 for on going manhole repairs.
-Table city walking trail lighting discussion to get further input from the Kick Start Program
The City wide spring cleanup is scheduled for April 22-29 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Dumpsters are located at the Lonoke City Shop, 1219 Barnes street. No liquids, paints, batteries, lumber, building materials or any other hazardous materials will be accepted. A tire container will also be available. For more information, contact Lonoke Public Works at 501-676-4370 or 501-676-2422
The next regular scheduled meeting will be at 6 p.m. April 10 at city hall.