Tagged: City Council

Searcy A&P Tax Rejected Again, As Predicted

Many of you have written, inquiring about the results of the A&P tax in Searcy. In short, it was a rear-kicking:

FOR: 3,289

AGAINST: 4,312

That’s a margin of about 14% (I predicted a larger defeat than the last go around, which was 10%, and said the margin could be as much as 16-18 points).

(Sorry for being so slow to the party here — I was up until early Wednesday morning doing live election coverage for The Arkansas Project and have been quite busy since, prepping for the upcoming general assembly and traveling for work)

I’ll have more analysis of the tax election in the coming days, but let me just say here now, as I told the folks on Newstalk 99.1 FM on Tuesday night:

I hope the city gets the message. I hope they can finally realize that the people of Searcy do not want the A&P tax — not now, not ever.

I’ve been saying this for years — they have called me crazy, accused me of being “against the children,” blah blah blah. But guess what? I’m right. The people of Searcy have affirmed this once again. Unfortunately, as I predicted on the radio, the fight is probably not over. The hosts were shocked by this statement — “This is a settled issue,” the said. But, the very next morning, Alderman Don Raney apparently left the door open to another run at the tax in his post-election interview with the local paper.

I’m not trying to be a sore winner. For whatever reason, there is a fairly large faction in this city that now thinks that the city is now doomed and their children’s futures are doomed because higher taxes have not been forced upon the people of Searcy. Scarily, they seem to think my fiscal conservatism poses a greater threat to threat to their children’s’ future than Obama does. If you hold these viewpoints, please seek psychiatric help immediately.

But here’s the really scary part: A failed city council candidate with a WordPress account is now more in touch with the people of Searcy than the 8 city alderman, who voted for the tax, and the mayor. 

This is a problem that needs a solution. A serious disconnect exists between the people of Searcy and their “leaders.” It’s (past) time to start working to bridge this divide.

More analysis (and perhaps a few samples of recent hate mail) to come!

Nic Horton, Editor

Update: Political Sign Removed From Searcy School Grounds

The aforementioned A&P tax sign

I drove by Sidney Deener school this evening around 8:00 p.m. The aforementioned pro-A&P tax sign (pictured right) was no where to be found.

No word if the sign that was being displayed at Southwest Middle School is still up or not. If someone goes by there, let me know if you spot it.

I know of at least one concerned citizen that read my earlier story about these signs that were apparently on public property and contacted Searcy Public Schools directly. On the eve of this pivotal election, what a great reminder of the power of citizen engagement. You can make a difference; you can hold your government accountable. 

If you haven’t voted yet, there is still plenty of time. Arkansas voters, visit http://www.VoterView.org to see where you vote.

Nic Horton

The Paper Turns

A&P tax protestors from 2010, using muddy signs that were stolen and discovered on city property

There will be a story in Wednesday’s edition of the Searcy paper about the pro-A&P tax group putting their fliers in mailboxes without stamps — a violation of federal law. But that’s not the real story. The real story here is that the paper is reporting the incident.

This is a paper that, like many across the country, bends to the left. (If you need any evidence of this, see this hit piece they ran on little ole insignificant me. They even had a piece yesterday outlining how much better the current proposal is than the 2009 proposal.) They also turned a blind eye to the ethics violations of our sitting county judge and endorsed the bypass tax, if I remember correctly. So it is certainly news that they are now turning against the pro-tax crowd. Quite frankly, it’s a great indication that the tax is doomed — a claim support by the paper’s own empirical evidence.

Using their own creative scientific method of hiring college students to conduct research, the paper conducted a poll showing the A&P tax failing by 12-points. They also recently conducted a poll that showed state Rep. Mark Biviano leading his Democrat challenger Kyle Osborne (who, incidentally, supports the A&P tax) by 16 points while just days before, Biviano released an internal poll from a well-respected polling firm showing a 26-point lead. So I think it’s reasonable to assume that the tax poll may be off by several points as well, although I can’t say I am completely surprised– they have a history of screwing these things up.

As I have been telling folks for a while, before any polls were conducted, you should not be surprised if the tax is defeated handily and by a larger margin than last time — perhaps by as much as 16-18 points.

The activists on the ground (as opposed to the ones at the paper) know they’re in trouble as well: last week, Alderman Don Raney told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette that Searcy needs the tax to help “disabled children” and the elderly. Besides being disgusting, these tactics are clear signs of desperation.

Don’t be surprised if you see the paper run a few more favorable A&P tax pieces between now and the election — they’ll come under a wave of pressure from the city political establishment after tomorrow’s bombshell hits. But even they know the gig is up.

Possible Searcy Parks Projects Released, No Pool Improvements Listed

If you’re thinking about voting for the latest Searcy tax proposal, you should know that you apparently won’t be voting for improvements to the city pool–which, in my estimation, is the impression that most Searcy voters are under (the last A&P tax was proposed to fund the previous mayor’s pet project, an aquatic center, and the most recent proposal was preceded by city officials bemoaning the need for pool improvements in the local paper).

The Parks & Rec committee has apparently released a list of projects they would like to pursue with the A&P money over the next five years.  Maybe I am missing something, but I do not see any pool improvements listed.  From the paper:

The tax is forecasted to bring in $971,392.68 in one year, based on five months of 2009 A&P revenues. The tax does not have a sunset.

For the first five years, the large projects are as follows:

Year one: Sports complex expansion with land acquisition and development.

Year two: Expansion and development of the bike trail

Year three: Riverside Park expansion

Year four: New park development

Year five: Soccer complex drainage.

Undoubtedly, someone will rebut my comments here by claiming this list is not extensive.  I’ll concede that point.  But don’t you think that, if the pool repairs were of highest priority, it would be listed?

This whole thing is one big mess.  The city passed this tax without listing any specific projects, but knowing full well that people would assume it was for pool improvements.  Now, this list comes forth, without any pool repairs listed?  It’s almost as if the city council had to pass the A&P ordinance before they could find out what it was going for (reminds me of another one of my favorite politicians).

Many of you may have been willing to pay for pool improvements, but are any of the things on this list so vital that you still support a cumulative 4% tax increase?

And take a look at Year Four:  a new park?  We can’t afford the parks we have, which is why we need this new tax, so if we get it, we are going to build MORE parks, which we also will not be able to afford!

They also expect us to believe that raising these sales taxes and spending all of this money on parks will magically attract businesses and new residents to Searcy.

More mismanagement by Searcy officials, facilitating more distrust in Searcy voters.

Searcy City Council Passes “Son of A&P Tax”

Oh by the way, the Searcy city council passed their latest tax increase on Tuesday evening by a vote of 7-0.  Alderman Mark Derrick was not in attendance.

The 1% tax would be applied to prepared food in the city of Searcy (concession stands, delis, bakeries, all restaurants, coffee, fountain drinks, etc.).  The 1% rate can be raised to 2% or 3% at a vote of the city council.

The proposal also carries a 3% tax on lodging, which includes room rentals.  You can read the full proposal here.

The issue will be put on the November ballot before the voters of Searcy, where I predict it will get obliterated.

How will you vote?  Let us know in the comments section.

Searcy Alderman Admits to Monitoring “Hispanic Garage Sales”

Alderman Arnett, braving the weather to warn Searcians about the city’s dangerously low tax rates

From The Arkansas Project:

How well I remember my days as a candidate!  Alderman Arnett kept a busy schedule putting eyebrow-raising posts on her Facebook campaign page about her funeral, and bragging about how many neighborhoods she walked while regularly parking in the handicapped parking space at city hall.  Working so hard for the people of Searcy, even campaigning for local tax increases on top of her regular duties, this driven public servant has been forced to catch up on sleep by napping through city council meetings! (VIDEO)

Many aldermen just want to make city government work better.  But that’s not enough for Alderman Mary Ann Arnett.  Her agenda:  stamp out the extraordinary dangers of unregulated yard sales.  Well, not all yard sales – just the ones run by dark-skinned people.  Don’t believe me?  Well, I can reproduce email just as well as the next blogger.  Here’s her request to Searcy code enforcement personnel, dated June 2, 2009:

Visit The Arkansas Project for Arnett’s full comments.

City of Searcy Releases Informal Food & Lodging Tax Revenue Projections

The mayor has passed along these figures that show how much the last A&P tax (which was overwhelmingly rejected by voters at the polls) brought in during its tenure:

August 8, 2012

To: Members of the City Council

From: David Morris

I have asked our City Clerk/Treasurer to furnish me with the amount of the collection of the former advertising and promotion (A&P) tax, that was collected in Searcy in 2009.   As you know, the former A&P tax  was one percent (1%) on prepared food and three percent (3%) on lodging.    The tax was collected for approximately five and a half  (5 ½) months.

The actual collections for the five (5) full months were as follows:

July 2009                     $79,287.48

August 2009               $79,550.03

September 2009      $82,519.80

October 2009            $84,861.82

November 2009       $78,527.80

The average of these five (5) months of full collections is $80,949.39 per month.   Assuming that monthly average continued, the annual revenue generated would have been $971,392.68.