Weigh In: Searcy A&P Tax?

Before I dive too far into what I think about the latest proposed A&P tax in Searcy, let’s have a conversation about it. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers. Some relevant questions might be:

Can consumers afford it?

Should parks be the city’s #1 priority?

Is taxing food a sound economic policy?

Are you willing to pay higher taxes in order to receive more benefits from the city?

Leave your comments below. Looking forward to a good discussion.

Nic Horton

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16 comments

  1. Paul D. Love

    If we could trust those who spend our tax dollars, I would favor more taxes. The amount of general revenue coming into the City of Searcy is stunning, but the mayor (correctly) notes that the City is broke. These two facts are telling–more money won’t keep the City of Searcy from being broke. Why? It doesn’t take a genius to figure this one out.

  2. Conservative

    I am against any new taxes! We are all ready taxes enough!!
    The City of Searcy loves to spend money!!
    They have never cut anything in the city!
    They just want to grow govt at are expense .
    Larger govt does not equal more freedom!
    We should love freedom more than govt.
    Happy 100 years to Milton Friedman!!!!
    “I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever possible.” Milton Friedman!
    The world needs more capitalist, Not taxes!
    Thanks Milton!!!

  3. Ron S

    No way do I trust our city government. I will vote against any proposed increase(s). Taxing food is hitting the poor with another blow. I say again that the leaders (?) of Searcy can not be trusted. I didn’t see a ‘sunset’ on the new proposal either.

      • Paul D. Love

        Of Freeloaders and Swimming Pools

        Most often, local not national governments exact freedom’s famous price–eternal vigilance. The renewed call for a Searcy A&P tax once more exacts either our taxes or our vigilance. That call asks whether the natural alliance between freeloaders and government officials, workers, and bureaucrats will be allowed to grow government.

        Less often, national not local governments require citizens to stand up and say, “Hold on. Government exists to secure my rights not my taxes.” We are now in such a period when the national government has overtaxed, overreached, and overspent all in the name of the general welfare. The renewed effort to exact from Searcy an A & P tax is a symptom of the same disease that grips our national capitol.

        The promises accompanying this tax are illusory. Tax proponents promise the tax will fund Parks & Recreation and build economic prosperity. Government and taxes don’t build prosperity—hard work does. Taxes also have a mind of their own and quickly slip the bonds of restraint which induce us to approve them. This tax is no exception. Soon, it will swell the coffers of the City and fund personal salaries and private fantasies in the name of the general welfare and civic needs.

        At the recent debates for County Judge, both candidates identified roads and bridges as the County’s greatest need. The City seems to identify a swimming pool as its greatest need. In fact, the County and the City’s greatest need comes from drug use. Our courts and social system struggle under the mayhem of drug use. Users and their children need rehab vouchers more than they need roads, bridges, and swimming pools.

        When elected officials spend our taxes on real not perceived needs, we should trust them with new taxes. Until then, let’s just say, “No.”

  4. Garry Lynn Baker

    We have enough problems with State and Federal Governments and taxes to pay at those levels…

    Before a new taxed is passed they should be looking at programs to cut to create the money needed to fund a new project, instead of looking at a new tax…

    In my house if we wanted to get a new swimming pool or put up more play equipment or anything along those lines we would have to give up getting something else, or sell off something to pay for it, i guess we could all get a second job to generate more income but that doesn’t sound like the right way to think about it…

    And if the local government would think about spending the hard earned money of the tax payer the same way they think about their own money, which this tax would come out of their pocket also, but i guess they might just “get” a raise to help pay that????

    bottom line no new taxes…

    • Arkansas Patriot

      Garry, I think you’ve hit on something very important. They don’t think about spending city money like it is their own–because it isn’t.

      Every penny they take up for this tax to put into a swimming pool is one less penny that will be invested in Searcy businesses. This is an assault on business owners in our community.

      • Garry Lynn Baker

        and that is how it has to be put to the people so they can see, that we are not just a bunch of complainers and do not want to “pay our share”…

        it has to be broken down, i hate the phrase, but to the “masses” because most people do not seem to take the time to account for the money that is taken in taxes and how it is spent…

        just go along to get along…the time has passed for being passive about it…

        great work on this site by the way, thank you very much for all you do…

  5. Searcy Pride

    I am a Republican and in favor of the tax. First, it’s not a tax on food. It’s a tax on restaurants. There is a huge difference. Eating at a restaurant is not a neccesity. It is a privilege. Food at a grocery store will not be taxed. Second, Searcy has a huge problem with its image. It is not a ‘friendly’ place to live. When a corporation is looking for somewhere to locate a new facility one of the first things they look at is quality of life. I remember when Toyota was looking to locate a new manufacturing facility in the US a few years ago. They chose Princeton, IN, a town similar in size and nature to Searcy. The things Toyota cited in making their decision could be used to describe Searcy, except for one. Princeton is close to a larder city (Evansville versus Little Rock). It is close to a major transportation route (I-64 versus I-40). The last one is where the difference occurs. Princeton was cited for being a great place to live. They have a great park system. There are well-developed bike trails They’ve replaced troublesome intersections with roundabouts. There is a community rec center. It’s a place where Toyota felt comfortable moving in their executives from Japan.

    Searcy has none of the quality of life components. Our two largest parks aren’t even connected to the surrounding neighborhoods via sidewalks. The bike trail is highly under-developed, crossing major 4-lane roads in two different places. There is not a community rec center with an indoor pool. The library is undersized. There are no sidewalks to speak of in the entire city. It’s just not a place with a great quality of life.

    Neighboring cities are capitalizing on our deficiencies. Jacksonville has a great city-owned water park. Several cities are adding splash pads to their parks. Paragould built a huge rec center. If a corporation was looking at cities in Arkansas as a potential site for relocation, Searcy would be near the bottom. The empty Kohler and Maytag (mostly)plants bear witness to that. The Whirlpool plant in Fort Smith closed this week, and it was estimated yesterday that it might take up to a year to find a potential replacement. One year! How long has the Maytag plant been empty? But Fort Smith just significantly redid several of their parks, and heavily influenced the state to refurbish Lake Fort Smith State Park.

    The old adage holds true. You must spend money to make money.

    • Arkansas Patriot

      @Pride, thanks for your comments. Searcy does lack high quality of life. But the difference between you and I is that I have zero confidence in the government–or taxes–to improve it. It will only make things worse.

      One substantive point that I must correct you on: this tax is a tax on food– prepared food. It is inaccurate for you to say that it will not be applied to grocery stores because it will. It will apply to any deli, bakery, fountain drinks, etc. These things will also be taxed at convenience stores.

      I would also add that many things you mentioned that need attention–the library, sidewalks, etc.–will not be addressed by this tax. In fact, they are being further neglected and pushed lower down the priority list because we are busy whining about parks improvements. We have fantastic parks in this city. I reject the premise that they are broken and need fixing.

      • Searcy Pride

        I would argue that any prepared food, regardless of source, is a luxury.

        I’m guessing you don’t have kids if you think the parks in Searcy are in good condition. The equipment is aged, and in several of the parks unusable. I have trouble even convincing my girls to go to the park here in town. They would much prefer to go to Conway or Burns Park. A town the size of Searcy should have at least one splash pad at the least.

      • Arkansas Patriot

        I played in Searcy baseball programs for about 10 years, then I worked there for 3 and coached for 3. I have plenty of experience and knowledge about Searcy parks. If we were to agree that the parks are in disrepair and that the equipment is awful, what evidence can you present that government should provide these things?

        To your point: thank you for agreeing that your previous comment was incorrect, but even if we could agree that ‘prepared food’ is a luxury, does that mean it should be taxed at a higher rate?

  6. Man in the Middle

    Searcy Pride, please take notes…..

    Quality of life is important for economic development, but it is not the only thing and there are many aspects the project managers look at. It all starts with “blocking and tackling”. Good roads and good schools. Schools that compete nationally, not just within Arkansas. Also…. your in a dry county and dry city. Most of the country is not dry. The project managers have to live in the area while the plant is built and get up and running. They generally don’t want to move to a dry county/city if they don’t live in one now. Below are some of the differences between Princeton and Searcy. Some of these are huge.

    Princeton, IN has a population of 8,644. Searcy has a population of 22,858.

    Princeton, IN is 30 minutes from Evansville. Searcy is an hour away from Little Rock. Princeton will draw more workers that live in Evansville than Searcy can draw from Little Rock.

    Princeton, IN is 15 minutes from I-64. Searcy is an hour from I-40.

    Princeton, IN has a power plant. To my knowledge Searcy does not have a power plant.

    Toyota also got a ten-year tax abatement and built the plant in 1996 at the height of an economic boom.

    Ivy Tech Community College, the state’s largest post-secondary institution, built a campus next to the Toyota plant. Harding is a private college that is not teaching vocational skills.

    Someone in Searcy should be talking to national site consultants and find out exactly what companies are looking for right now. In the mean time, Searcy and White County need to work on the fundamentals first. Get good roads and good schools then look to improve the parks and rec system.

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