Reader: “Fight To Keep Washington-Style Politics Out of Searcy.”

Letter To The Editor:

“In a few weeks the citizens of Searcy will finally have the opportunity to vote on whether or not they will be charged an Advertising and Promotion tax on prepared food and hotel services they purchase within the city limits. Proponents of the tax claim these funds will be used to improve the city of Searcy, mainly through the renovation of Parks and Recreation facilities, promotion of local fairs and festivals, and increased tourism from special city events. Opponents of the tax point out that the economic timing is poor for a new tax of any kind, especially one whose funds are not earmarked for such improvements and are managed by members of an unelected commission who are not answerable to the people as to how the funds are spent.  Although I’m sure most of you reading this have already made up your minds on this issue, I urge all Searcy voters to CAREFULLY consider these two positions before voting in April.

I will be voting AGAINST the A&P Tax on April 13, and I’d like to explain why.

I love my city. I was not born in Searcy, but I was raised here. Apart from several years in my childhood my family spent on the mission field, I attended Searcy Public Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. As a child I played Searcy city league baseball and basketball and was a member of the Searcy Sharks Swim Team. During my childhood my Dad always told me that Searcy was different from other places. He said that the people here sincerely cared about each other, prizing honesty and integrity above personal gain. Business deals in Searcy, sealed with a simple handshake, could still be made with merchants who had been practicing free enterprise in Searcy for generations. Taxes were low, and city government was conducted by men and women who were open and willing to serve by putting their citizens’ interests above their own. All in all, Searcy was a great place to live, a place where any kid could be proud to grow up.

And grow up I did. I got married, graduated from college and graduate school, and had 3 great kids of my own. When the time was right, I decided to move my family back to Searcy, hoping that my hometown would be a place where they could be proud to live and grow up themselves. In many ways, Searcy is still very similar to the city of my childhood. Searcy is bigger today, but many of the same people still live here, raising their children and grandchildren, and working in their family businesses. In other ways, sadly, Searcy has changed. I do not see the same openness and integrity in all members of our city government today. I do not see individual freedom and free enterprise encouraged the way they once were. In many ways, it seems that Searcy is catching up to the rest of America on her mad tailspin away from liberty.

Today, as I write these words, politicians in Washington D.C. are celebrating the passage of a bill that will forcibly remove your ability to control your family’s healthcare choices. The age old Washington shenanigans of meeting behind closed doors, discussing procedural loopholes and making secret deals figured prominently in the successful passage of “healthcare reform”. Searcy may seem a world away from Washington, but to a careful observer, the healthcare reform issue and the A&P Tax issue share several important similarities. The most fundamental of these deals with the issue of ACCOUNTABILITY. Our “representatives” in Washington no longer feel that they are accountable to us. Why else would they work so hard to pass a terrible healthcare bill that most Americans oppose?

The Mayor of Searcy and several members of the City Council have a similar attitude. Why else would they mandate a tax upon our city without our approval, and then use taxpayer funds to attempt to prevent us from voting on the issue? Why do they plan to turn over hundreds of thousands of dollars of YOUR money to an unelected A&P commission, several members of which are not even residents of Searcy? Why do they refuse to earmark this money for specific city improvements, instead dumping it into an ambiguous slush fund? Why do they turn a blind eye to the corruption and shenanigans that have plagued A&P commissions in other cities? Why do they wish to prevent you from finding out about these Washington-like actions? Because they don’t really care what you and I think or want. Because they see themselves as public rulers instead of public servants. Because they no longer feel that they are accountable to us.

This is not the Searcy I know and love. It is time to restore accountability to our city government. For this reason I will vote AGAINST the A&P Tax. And for this reason I will vote to replace the Mayor and her minions on the City Council when they come up for reelection. Before you vote on April 13, please take the time to investigate the facts of this issue for yourself; because, if passed, the A&P Tax will not likely go away. It has no exit point, no sunset clause, and no expiration date. Money that you and I earn, that should stay in our pockets, will continuously flow into the coffers of an unelected commission that owes no accountability to anyone, unless we have the guts to stop it now.

Please join me in the fight to keep Washington-style politics out of our city. Please join me in the fight to restore our city government to one that serves its citizens instead of dictating to them. Please join me in the fight to restore accountability.

Vote AGAINST the A&P Tax on April 13.”

Garret Myhan


The Arkansas Patriot is a conservative organization dedicated to equipping citizens with the truth, insuring transparent government, and encouraging citizens to question their government boldly.  The editor can be reached at arkansaspatriot@gmail.com Follow The Patriot on Twitter and Facebook.

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3 comments

  1. Cindy

    We NEED to improve our PUBLIC WORKS, including PARKS – - especially our PUBLIC POOL – - BUT we must go about it properly. Let’s find the right way to do this – - Anyone got any ideas?

    • Scott Biddle

      The problem with the A&P tax is that it doesn’t dedicate one cent to ANY “public works”. Another problem is that the mayor stated during a radio interview on Friday, March 19th that the A&P tax will not be sufficient to build a new pool, build a civic center, or build a community center (the major projects cited in February 2009 as reasons to impose this tax). She went on to state that if the city of Searcy wants to build any of these things that the city will need to pass an ADDITIONAL tax beyond the A&P tax to build those.

      What can/should be done? Well, several of us who had a problem with the A&P tax spoke with our elected officials in the spring of 2009 (before the passage of the A&P tax) and mentioned that if the city of Searcy wanted to build things like this they could pass a 1% tax with a sunset clause dedicated to capital projects. A 1% “sunset tax” would have generated more in 1 year than the A&P tax would have generated in 7 years. If the city feels there are specific construction needs, they should propose a dedicated sales tax with a sunset tax. The city would raise enough money to build projects and if they are responsible in their handling of the funds and projects they can go back to the people in a few years and ask for another dedicated sunset tax. This is how Cabot and Conway and Jacksonville built many of their nice facilities – a dedicated general sales tax with a sunset clause. A&P taxes are insufficient for capital projects in all but the largest cities.

  2. Garret

    Hi Cindy, thanks for your comment.

    I agree that the NECESSITIES of the city (roads, water/sewer, public schools) need to be maintained and, when necessary, improved. This is precisely why we pay property taxes, etc. I have no problem with this. I do not expect to live in a city and not have to contribute my fair share for these things.

    However, I consider parks, community centers, pools, etc. to be LUXURIES rather than NECESSITIES. Yes, it is very nice to have them. Yes, it makes our city more attractive to people who are considering moving here. Yes, it encourages tourism to some extent. But these things are not used by all members of the community, nor are they necessary to make Searcy a nice community in which to live.

    Having said that, I love to take my kids to the park and I fully expect them to make use of the city ball fields, just as I did while growing up. We currently have beautiful parks and very adequate sports areas for our kids. Of course they need improvement and maintenance from time to time. We have been able to make these essential improvements without raising or imposing new taxes in the past and I think we can do it in the future.

    This is just my opinion; and it may not be shared by the majority of people in Searcy. That is why it is vitally important that the citizens of Searcy are allowed to vote on this issue. If the greater part of our city want this tax, then so be it. I just don’t think they do. In the future it may be wise for the city government to consider a temporary sales or other tax (like the one used to build the new fire station) for specific parks and recreation projects. This tax should be for a limited and set period of time, and the funds should be firmly earmarked for the projects in question and under the control of our elected officials. That way there will be total transparency; we know for certain what we are paying for, who has oversight over the money, and how long the tax will last.

    Finally a word about the Public Pool. I wouldn’t get my hopes up that we will see any action on that front any time soon, even if the A&P Tax is approved by the voters. When I first became aware of this issue, I was told that a new community aquatics center was the main goal of the A&P Tax proponents. This is simply not true. A couple of weeks ago, the Mayor went on record during a radio interview with the statement that large building projects (such as a new pool or aquatics center) would not be built using A&P funds but rather through a bonding process. You see, they won’t tell us specifically how the A&P tax money will be used because they won’t have any control over it, and neither will we. Incidentally, I encourage you to investigate how much it cost other communities to build their aquatic centers and the yearly maintenance costs associated with them. It is not just a one-time expense, but rather an expensive undertaking that will burden us for years to come.

    Thanks again for your comment.

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