Tuesday, June 27, 2017

TOP STORY >> Sherwood looking at two taxes

Leader editor

The Sherwood City Council on Monday heard plans to implement two separate sales-tax increases to improve streets and drainage.

Voters will have to approve the taxes. Alderman Charlie Harmon suggested holding the election early next year.

One tax will sunset after eight years, and another will be permanent.

Walter McSpadden of Wright, Lindsey and Jennings law firm spoke to the council about preliminary drafts of both tax proposals.

Alderman Kevin Lilly, whoheads the city’s street committee, is spearheading the planning of the sales taxes.

Lilly said a temporary three-quarter (0.75 percent) cent sales tax will pay for improving streets and a quarter (0.25 percent) of a cent sales tax will pay for “the long-term operations and maintenance of our existing streets.”

Lilly said the city must shore up its street funding especially since it will be losing $1 million in turnback money.

A list of road and drainage needs was first presented at a workshop last July and included projects to fix sinkholes, collapsing pipes, excessive traffic jams, flooding and dangerous curves, at a cost of more than $17 million.

City Attorney Steve Cobb advised the council to meet again on the tax plans.

Harmon said the city will vote in November about allowing sales of liquor by the drink in restaurants in dry areas. He does not want the upcoming tax vote to be scheduled too close to the liquor election.

Harmon recommended the tax election be soon after Jan. 1. Lilly advised it not take place any later than that.

On the list of road needs is the widening and extending of Maryland Avenue at a cost of about $4.5 million; Hemphill Road widening and extension at about $2.7 million; extending the road behind Kohl’s to connect with Lantrip Road, which will cost about $400,000.

Also redoing Jacksonville-Cato from Creekdale to Hwy. 107 to prevent Creekdale subdivision from being cut-off from traffic during wet weather, which will cost $2.8 million; work to widen and improve Jacksonville Cutoff will run about $6.3 million; and extending Claremont Avenue will run $600,000.

Most of the planned roadwork is designed to relieve congestion and give residents other options to enter and exit the city.

City Engineer Ellen Norvell has said Jacksonville-Cato is a high-traffic area with a count of about 7,800 vehicles using it daily. “That’s twice as many as Maryland Avenue,” Norvell explained.

At that July meeting Heye suggested the city look at raising the sales tax. “I know I don’t do my shopping based on sales tax. I look for convenience and who has what I want,” she said, adding that a sales tax doesn’t go against just the residents.

“It applies to everyone stopping in Sherwood. And if we have better streets, we’ll have more shopping.”