Holiday Island incorporation Barr wants more information on proposal

Friday, March 13, 2020

By Scott Loftis

Carroll County Judge Sam Barr asked for more information Tuesday about a proposal to let voters decide whether to incorporate the Holiday Island community.

Every seat was filled in the courtroom of the Carroll County Eastern District Courthouse for a 9 a.m. hearing on a petition seeking to have the incorporation proposal placed on the ballot for the November general election.

The petition was circulated by the Holiday Island Citizens for Incorporation Committee, a group of residents who say incorporation is essential to the future of Holiday Island.

Holiday Island currently operates as a suburban improvement district, with roughly half of its operating revenue coming from assessments billed to property owners. Proponents of incorporation say the principle on the “assessed benefit” is declining slowly over time as the district spends money to provide services such as street maintenance. Projections indicate that revenue source will be exhausted at some point, likely between 2032 and 2035, supporters of incorporation say.

Incorporation would allow Holiday Island to receive state turnback funds, a portion of county road taxes and local county and city sales tax revenue. It also would allow for the creation of regulations for planning and zoning and animal control and the provision of law enforcement and solid waste management services.

At Monday’s hearing, Barr had questions about a map of the area proposed for incorporation prepared by the Arkansas GIS (Geographic Information System) office, asking whether it included all the parcels in Holiday Island whose owners currently pay assessments to the suburban improvement district. Barr also questioned the fact that some individuals who own property in Holiday Island won’t be able to vote on the incorporation issue.

“I’m not against Holiday Island being a city,” Barr said. “I want everyone to have equal and fair treatment.

”The information submitted to Barr by the incorporation committee included an outline of a possible 2021 budget, which Barr described as “pretty thin.”

He also pointed out that some Holiday Island residents say there is a lack of information from the incorporation committee.

“I get a lot of complaints that people are not really informed on this,” Barr said.

Barr allowed members of the audience to give public comments on the issue, limiting each speaker to three minutes. A dozen individuals spoke, with several expressing concerns about the effects of incorporation.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Barr asked the incorporation committee’s attorney, Justin Eichmann of Springdale, to provide more information regarding the area to be included in the incorporation proposal. Eichmann indicated he could provide that information within five days.

“I’m undecided today,” Barr said, indicating that he would make his decision public within 10 days of receiving the supplemental information from Eichmann.

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