Searcy’s Sales Tax To Be In Bottom Five Of 70 Cities Without 1%, Group Spokesman Says | New
Moving Searcy Forward looked at 70 Arkansas cities for total sales taxes, according to Will Moore, spokesperson for the community tax support group, and found that Searcy’s is on average right now. Without the temporary 1% tax, he said the city would be among the bottom five among those communities.
“We want to be a vibrant community for ourselves today and for generations to come,” Moore said at a Zoom “In the Know” forum hosted earlier this week by the Searcy Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We want to make sure the city has adequate funding to provide citizens with basic municipal services and we want to be a community that works with all of our citizens to determine how we can improve the quality of life for everyone in Searcy. “
The first step in this process, according to Moore, is securing basic municipal services. “We want to make sure, as citizens, that we have done everything possible to provide the city with adequate funding to ensure that it can provide these services.”
Early voting for a November 9 special election that would make the eight-year one-cent sales and use tax passed in 2014 permanent begins on November 2 at the White County Cooperative Extension Service Office, 2400 Landing Road, and will take place 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays until November 8.
Moore said that in the seven years of the one-cent tax’s existence, $ 6.5 million was the average collection of revenue on an annual basis. Breakdowns of continuing annual needs for the income of a cent, he said, are police and firefighters, $ 1,566,000; infrastructure, $ 2,644,000; sanitation, $ 653,000; economic development, $ 500,000; courts and administration, $ 193,000; reserve fund, $ 250,000; and parks and recreation, $ 694,000. (These breakdowns are available at cityofsearcy.org.)
Among the needs of the police and firefighters, he said, there is $ 750,000 per year for retirement which “is an obligation that does not disappear regardless of the results of the November 9 vote. It’s a state-imposed obligation, so Searcy needs it. -cents of income to do so.
Through the Arkansas legislative audit, Moore said the group found that almost every city in the state had raised property taxes to “cover their exposure to the police and retired firefighters.” The Town of Searcy chose not to do this and as citizens of Searcy I think this is something we all benefit from, but they [the city] have to find a way to generate income to cover this obligation, and that comes from the sales tax. “
The city, Moore said, has a fleet of 36 police vehicles and around 20 cars for investigative and administrative purposes. “All of these cars have a fixed lifespan. They should be replaced on a reasonable basis. With this fleet replacement, they are able to replace around six police cars per year and around two administrative cars per year. Fleet expenses are $ 200,000 per year and personnel requirements for police and firefighters are $ 544,000 more than current expenses ($ 3,576,353 in 2020).
The infrastructure, streets, drainage and sidewalks needs were estimated at $ 2,598,000 and the additional staff requirements for these areas were estimated at $ 46,000. For sanitation, needs of $ 522,000 have been granted for the fleet and $ 131,000 for personnel.
Moore said he thinks it is great that the city also wants to invest in itself in economic development, workforce development, job creation and ready-to-go sites. He said the city could “put the wind in its sails and invest in some great programs.”
The reserve fund discussion included a discussion of a rainy day fund and $ 250,000 for matching grants. “I think it’s very reasonable for us to expect our city to have a savings account,” Moore said.
Turning to parks and recreation, Moore said the staffing was $ 86,000 and maintenance and operations were listed at $ 608,000.
“From what we understand, Parks and Rec has not had a budget increase for over five years, so this ensures additional operating funds for Parks and Rec,” he said. “As a person with young children,” said Moore, “he would love to see the parks, football fields and baseball complexes in a well-maintained way that the city could be proud of.”
Quality of life was then brought up, but Moore said you couldn’t really talk about it until Stage 1 was safe. “We need to secure our core funding before we can consider moving to step 2.”
Crafton Tull is a civil engineering firm that was hired by the city that primarily focuses on primary planning, according to Moore. He said the cabinet is focused on “citizen feedback from across the community.”
Moore shared photos of places like Conway, Hot Springs, Pine Bluff and Maumelle as well as towns in Oklahoma and Texas where Crafton Tull worked. He said the company also makes parking systems and can calculate sidewalk requirements. Moore said the company will be able to give the city good feedback on the development of Riverside Park.
He said he liked to see this as a five or ten year plan so that the city administration of today and tomorrow has “some continuity”.
To pay for all of the city’s needs, Moore said, it has two main sources of revenue: sales taxes and property tax. He said the November 9 measure simply held the “green line where it stands.” It is not a tax increase; we all pay it today. It would just continue to apply the same tax rate.
He said that if the tax passed in 2014 were allowed to expire in June 2022, “not only would it be the lowest of this group of cities, but when you look at that in the context of the other mechanism that a city has to raise, generate income, property taxes, Searcy is already at the bottom.
Searcy’s property tax is also “100 percent allotted to one thing – all of our property tax dollars go to the police and firefighters’ pension fund.” It does not cover the whole obligation. … “
“So if we allow our sales tax to go low with our property tax already low, you know I think we can all start to see how things stack up and how the services provided by our city should be adjusted. “
Most of the numbers and comparisons Moore used showing that Searcy would be at the bottom of the city sales tax rate and the bottom of the property tax rate compared to the following cities: Jonesboro (pop. 78,576), Farmington (7,584), Jacksonville (population 29,477). ), Heber Springs (6,969), Conway (64,124), Sherwood (32,731). Maumelle (19,251), Russellville (28,940), Benton (35,014), Siloam Springs (17,287), Batesville (11,191), Bryant (20,663), Bentonville (54,164), Fayetteville (93,949) and Little Rock (202 591).
However, Moore said the larger group of 70 cities was used because the group wanted to “go further and have a better comparison.”