Opinions differ on proposed sales tax in Green Forest; election is Tuesday

Friday, April 5, 2013

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story erroneously reported that voting would take place at the Carroll County Courthouse, rather than Green Forest United Methodist Church. The article has been updated to reflect this fact.

GREEN FOREST -- City residents will take to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether to increase the Green Forest sales tax by 1.25 percent.

If approved, city officials have estimated, the tax would contribute an additional $300,000 each year to city coffers -- to be used to purchase new emergency vehicles and shore up the city's gutted general fund, they've said. The tax would begin generating revenue this fall.

According to the language in the ballot title, the first 20 percent of this revenue would go toward replacing the city's emergency vehicles, 80 percent of which are more than five years old and many of which are 10 to 40 years old, said Mayor Charles Reece.

Reece said the city had spent $20,243 on maintenance for the fire and police fleets in the last year alone.

The remaining 80 percent of the added revenue would be pledged to the city general fund. At a budget meeting last December, Reece told council members sales tax receipts had slipped 10 percent in 2012. He attributed the decline, in part, to the shuttering of Tanner's hardware store earlier in the year.

The city is expecting a 16 percent dip in sales tax receipts in the first part of 2013, though city leaders hope to make up the gap by increasing the sales tax.

However, the decision to dedicate so much revenue to the general fund, with no restrictions on what the money can be used for, has made some residents uncomfortable.

Former Alderman Mike Miller is one of those residents. Miller acknowledged that the city needed new vehicles, especially a fire truck. However, he questioned why the city couldn't pass the sales tax with a sunset clause, as was done the last time the city needed a new fire truck.

Beyond this, he said he didn't think so much of the tax should be pledged to the general fund, and he questioned how the city had found its way into such dire financial straits.

"In my 11 years on the City Council," he said, "we never had any problems with the general fund."

Miller and several other Green Forest residents, who did not want to be identified, have purchased radio and print ads urging people not to approve the tax.

If voters do approve, city leaders have promised to repeal the existing city property tax. Even if the millage is repealed, Reece has estimated the sales tax increase would still net the city an additional $200,000 each year.

At a meeting last fall, Alderman Tim Hatman noted that repealing the millage would mean little to lower income residents -- many of whom rent and would be hit hardest by the sales tax increase. However, the mayor has said he feels the sales tax is a "more equitable" form of taxation.

City Council members approved the first reading of an ordinance to eliminate the millage, and honor their pledge, at a meeting last month.

Council members would still need to approve two more readings before the ordinance becomes law, and Reece has said the final reading would not take place until August. That vote will be dependent on how voters behave when they go to the polls next Tuesday.

Voting will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Green Forest United Methodist Church, located across the street from Green Forest City Hall.

Ballots will be processed at the Carroll County Courthouse, in Berryville, immediately following the election.

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  • Mr Miller conveniently has forgotten about his role in the City Council of 4 years ago in needlessly spending some $500,000 on engineering fees and he has also conveniently forgotten about the $200,000 the city was asked to return to the state last year due to an audit of a yet to be named business in the County. Mr Miller, while he served 11 years on council, NEVER participated in city sponsored events. So, it is very easy to cast stones, but shouldn't one look in a mirror and be accountable for their actions or lack thereof.

    -- Posted by ciacharlie on Fri, Apr 5, 2013, at 4:41 PM
  • NOTE: Some folks question why a large portion of the tax proceeds will go to the General Fund? Remember, the General Fund also pays the day to day expenses of the Fire Department and for the Police Department (to include salary)......so this is all about providing services to the citizens of Green Forest.

    -- Posted by ciacharlie on Fri, Apr 5, 2013, at 4:50 PM
  • WOW!!! Just like Obama blaming Bush long after he is gone. Just concentrate on your job not going back in history to find scapegoat. I went back and read this story 3 times and cannot find one time Miller blamed Reese. Someone must be feeling the heat!!

    -- Posted by FBI freddie on Fri, Apr 5, 2013, at 7:13 PM
  • Well, Freddie, no heat around except for what was done and not done.......open your eyes. ;-) Just telling the facts......you know it as does everyone else with a pulse. The truth hurts does it not?

    -- Posted by umterps on Fri, Apr 5, 2013, at 10:58 PM
  • Could ciacharlie & umterps be the same honorable of Green Forest. Vote no on Tuesday at the Carroll County courthouse.

    -- Posted by gf citizen on Sat, Apr 6, 2013, at 9:30 AM
  • President Obama donated 5% of his salary to the US treasury as a symbolic gesture.

    -- Posted by gf citizen on Sat, Apr 6, 2013, at 4:25 PM
  • Gosh fbifreddie and gfcitizen seem to be a bit myopic. Check Websters (the dictionary) for the meaning of myopic. ;-)

    -- Posted by TroungMinhKy on Sun, Apr 7, 2013, at 9:52 PM
  • I know the meaning of myopic thank you. But many of us think instead of the 80% going to an administration that already has shown no ability to handle money we should reverse the process and only for 5 years. The other side claims their #1 prioity is new emergency vehicles and then offer a 20% solution. We feel give 80% to quickly buy emergency vehicles 20% to help the city with a little extra to help with their funding. I think you will only have to do this for 5 years and then sunset it out.

    -- Posted by FBI freddie on Mon, Apr 8, 2013, at 8:14 AM
  • Are you aware that the general fund also pays for the day to day expenses of both the police department and the fire department.....THAT is where the funds are applied!

    -- Posted by ciacharlie on Mon, Apr 8, 2013, at 9:09 AM
  • I absolutley do and why do you need ANOTHER $100,000 over your budget to do that???? This city cannot live within its means. Like most government agencies you think the spigot of money will never shutoff. If your real priority was(as we have heard you adds over and over) to get a new Firetruck and police vehicles why did you not go to 80% for that and only 20% to the general fund?? Hope the people have figured this out.

    -- Posted by FBI freddie on Mon, Apr 8, 2013, at 11:57 AM
  • As for TroungMinKy; why is it that whenever someone disagrees with this administation we are branded as ignorant as with your comment for us to "check the dictionary" Some sat through the City Council meeting and endured the Mayor telling the crowd over and over "they need to be educated or need to be informed" Is it just possible that us in the "ignorant masses" could just be right just one time. With your approval of course!! If we are so ignorant why is it that during that meeting citizens could answer the queston of the price of the repairs to street but none of the city officials could?? Why was is that none of the city officials could answer the question about the width of the street but Patty Vilines and others could. Why?? because none of the city officials took the effort to do the heavy lifting but "common" citizens like Patty and Janice and Janice were out there measuring the street and school busses and trucks to see if logistically it was even possible. The city did not even know how wide the median was going to be. The city officials just wanted the money but not take the time to justify it. By the way the winning bid was $212,000 the grant was $125,000 so the difference(and cost to the city) was $87,000 unless our Green Forest 4th grade math is wrong and that could be consider we (except the ruling class) are considered ignorant.

    -- Posted by FBI freddie on Mon, Apr 8, 2013, at 12:25 PM
  • Oh Freddie! Don't think you listened very well! Oh well. In fact there is nothing wrong with being wrong, just gotta learn from it. Ummmm....who said you are ignorant? Not anyone in the city. Do not be so defensive. Do you know the reason behind monikers? Did you ever work for the FBI?

    -- Posted by ciacharlie on Mon, Apr 8, 2013, at 2:24 PM
  • Citizen, consumer beware in most instances when sales taxes increase the consumer will pay the bill. Prepare for goods and services to increase in price. The consumer decides if their money is worth the goods or services provided, if not then businesses will close. This causes unemployment and decreased tax revenue, the intent of sales tax initiatives.

    -- Posted by gf citizen on Mon, Apr 8, 2013, at 3:07 PM
  • Again, as always, everybody is wrong except King Charlie. It is your opinion that I am wrong so I will take that with a grain of salt. Maybe we should have a required Saturday morning class once per month where you can gather the town and tell everyone what they should think like they do in North Korea. I am sure we would all be more enlightened by you. FBI stands for Forever Be Independent. Some in town say CIA stands for Charlie is Arrogant (I have heard worse) Have you never been wrong??

    -- Posted by FBI freddie on Mon, Apr 8, 2013, at 3:18 PM
  • Boy does Mr. Miller have a short memory. I believe he was on the council during Mayor Deweese's term when mayor Deweese worked hard to get the city back in financial shape because THEY ( Miller) and others, ignored the fact that the city was losing ALOT of money every year in the water AND sewer departments.Then they were scratching their heads wondering what mayor Deweese done with all the money in reserves. Mayor Reece is correct about his information but this I speak about is before his time. Everyone knows who Miller worked for. Just look at who he hangs with. Even one of his so called friends punched his lights out because he voted against something that effected "their" business. Whoa could there have been a witness to that? looks to me like his "friends" are taking advantage of him again and he just cant see whats going on. There are some around town that could care less about Green Forest and they would rather see it go down the toilet because of their dislike for mayor Reece. Once again the old heads that were always in conflict are trying to rare their ugly heads because it does not suit "their" self-serving needs. For years Green Forest had councils that could not get along and during those times NOTHING got done. Mayor Dewesse experienced it. He too had visions of moving this city forward Now when we have another Mayor that wants to move the city forward then comes along the old guys again, full of their viagra pills wanting to work against something that would be good for the city ONLY because of their dislike for someone. Mayor Reece, Keep up the good work and I for one will support the sales tax. its a "FAIR" tax.I hope to see it pass so Green Forest can move forward. It would also be nice to see my personal taxes go down for a change.

    -- Posted by KayGeeBee on Mon, Apr 8, 2013, at 4:08 PM
  • Ummmmm. I find it intresting that those supposed "victims" resort to implied name calling and derogatory comments. Did gfcitizen & fbifreddie ever look in a mirror? Shame on you both.

    -- Posted by ciacharlie on Tue, Apr 9, 2013, at 9:30 AM
  • Shame on all of you.

    -- Posted by baloney on Tue, Apr 9, 2013, at 5:02 PM
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