Wednesday, November 15, 2017

TOP STORY >> Sales tax levy for sewer fix, water repairs passes easily

Leader staff writer

Both Lonoke sales-tax options passed Tuesday by at least a 3-to-1 margin.

The levies will allow the city to issue about $20 million in bonds for much-needed sewer and water infrastructure repair and expansion.

“It’s what we’ve been working for,” said Mayor Wayne McGee after the vote tallies were released Tuesday evening. “The residents voted to help themselves, and this will do so much for Lonoke that it’s hard to put into words.”

The first item on the ballot was a levy of a 1.25 percent sales and use tax to be used solely to secure the repayment of capital improvement bonds issued in the maximum principal amount not to exceed $20,900,000 for improvements, betterment and extensions to the waterworks and sewage systems in Lonoke.

It passed with 227 votes for and 65 against.

The second tax was the levy of a .25 percent sales and use tax to also be used on water and sewer infrastructure, as well as provide financial support for the operation of Lonoke police and fire departments.

It passed 219 to 70.

The mayor said he and other city leaders will meet in the next few days to prioritize the work that need to be done.

“We want to be ready the moment the money becomes available,” he explained, adding that he wished he could have talked to each resident and explained all the good this will do for Lonoke now and well into the future. “This will help everybody. It’s long overdue.”

McGee said in addition to making much needed repairs to old water and sewer lines, the sales and use tax will also prepare Lonoke for the future. He said the city has completed almost every project it is capable of doing itself, but has come to a point where it does not have the equipment to complete the larger projects. He said while some people may not have water and sewer issues, there are many in Lonoke who do.

“If I didn’t think it was something great for our town, I wouldn’t be for it,” McGee said. “I wouldn’t want my name on it. It’s for the people who live here and want to stay here or have businesses here. It’s for their kids. For the future of Lonoke.”

It was just one piece of good news the mayor received this week. He also found out the city has been awarded two grants: $159,000 for sidewalks and $65,000 for walking trails.

“It’s going to get busy around here for sure,” the mayor said.