Reader: “A&P Commission is Redundant, Unnecessary.”

Letter to the Editor

“Dear Editor of The Arkansas Patriot,

We do not need an A&P tax to promote Searcy. We already pay city property and sales taxes, a portion of which are used to promote Searcy and attract visitors, new business, and new residents. Our Chamber of Commerce fulfills a similar role, and although it isn’t primarily taxpayer funded, it has “nearly 650 businesses working to accomplish what is best for Searcy,” according to the city website.

In addition, we pay 2% sales tax on tourist-related goods and services to the state to help fund the AR Department of Parks and Tourism and its twelve regional tourism associations including the Greers Ferry Lake & Little Red River Association (http://www.greersferrylake.org/content) which oversees the region in which we live. The Arkansas Hospitality Association, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to help promote Arkansas and its communities. Their “Welcome to Arkansas” program could address some of our promotion needs with little to no cost (http://www.arhospitality.org/welcome-to-arkansas).

Furthermore, Mayor Belinda LaForce has pointed out that our tax burden in Searcy has been relatively low for many years. That is an excellent selling point for attracting not only travelers and shoppers but also new business and new residents. A tax increase damages that promotion point.

We do not need an A&P commission either. It is redundant. Six of its seven members must be city council members and local business owners. As part of our city government, our city council is already working to promote the city, and most of our local business owners support our Chamber of Commerce, and its promotion efforts.

Across the state, A&P commissions have abused their power while acting within the guidelines of Ark. Code Annotated (ACA) § 26-75-601 through ACA § 26-75-618 (the Advertising and Promotion Commission Act). Three of the most notorious examples are:

· Little Rock – http://www.arkansasonline.com/specialreports/lrbureau/story1, http://www.arkansasonline.com/specialreports/lrbureau/story2, and http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:22FzWrH9MWkJ:www.arktimes.com/blogs/arkansasblog/2006/12/uncontrolled.aspx+arkansas+a%26p+commission&cd=33&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

· Benton – http://www.bentoncourier.com/content/view/110805/27

· Forrest City – http://thnews.com/node/13153

Searcy is a special community, and we all hope such things wouldn’t happen here. However, the existing laws did not prevent the questionable actions taken by these other A&P commissions.

The Advertising and Promotion Commission Act only grants limited powers to city councils to oversee A&P commissions. As a result, city councils have little control over what an A&P commission will do or how it will spend the A&P money for the “advertising and promotion” purpose required by ACA § 26-75-606. Removing a commission member does not undo the actions taken by the commission or guarantee its future behavior. Since A&P commissioners appoint their replacements, voters cannot hold them directly accountable for their actions the way we can hold our elected officials accountable.

Let’s work together to find a better way to promote our community.”

Russel Hiatt

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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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