City sets special election for street improvements

The Conway City Council approved setting a special election for Nov. 14 to let voters decide whether to levy a five-year sales and use tax for city street improvements.

 

The city will host three public informational meetings prior to the special election.

Residents will have their first opportunity to hear about the proposed three-eights of 1 percent (0.375 percent) sales and use tax that officials say would cease on March 31, 2023, during the Ward 2 meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Faulkner County Library.

The city will also discuss the proposal at 6 p.m. Oct. 3 at the McGee Center and at 6 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Don Owen Sports Complex.

If the tax passes, it would generate $5.1 million each year and the city would start receiving the funds in April 2018.

Mayor Bart Castleberry said he would recommend using the $5.1 million on collector and arterial streets and use the $1.4 million the city receives in state turnback funds for neighborhood streets.

He said Street and Engineering Director Finley Vinson would compile a prioritized list of street improvements to post to the city’s website and Facebook page.

Opponents of the tax say they have doubts it will cease in 2023. They also say the city should wait until the general election of 2018 rather than having a special election, which historically has a lower turnout rate.

Castleberry said the special election will only cost the city $3,000 and that, according to street engineers, the deterioration of the city streets over the next year would amount to an estimated $3 million.

Also Tuesday, the Soul Food Café Mission pulled its request for rezoning and a conditional-use permit that would allow it to open a homeless shelter and hold church services at 1715, 1717 and 1727 S. Donaghey Ave.

David Hogue, speaking as a Soul Food Café board member and not the Faulkner County Attorney, apologized to the area residents that the issue had caused division.

“This has become contentious and that was never the intent,” he said. “We just want to help people.”

He said he will work with City Attorney Chuck Clawson to determine what Soul Food Café is allowed to do on the property under current conditions and asked that anyone with property in an appropriate location for a homeless shelter consider donating it to the organization.

“We have to address the homeless problem in Conway,” Hogue said.

 

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