MAUMELLE, Ark. (KTHV) - Early voting begins Tuesday, March 6 for a special election in the City of Maumelle.
Residents will decide on two temporary half-cent sales tax items aimed at promoting economic growth in the city. They will also decide on a permanent half-cent sales tax that would replace Maumelle's controversial community service fee.
The biggest item on the ballot is a $15.6 million bond to pay for an interchange at the intersection of Interstate 40 and Counts Massie Road.
"We have to have the interchange or a new way in and out of Maumelle to allow development to continue in Maumelle and to increase our population," Mayor Mike Watson said.
According to Mayor Watson, 43,000 vehicles per day use Maumelle Blvd. at the Interstate 430 entrance.
Members of Maumelle Vision for the Future, a support group for the proposed interchange, believe it would alleviate some of the congestion on Maumelle Blvd.
"By funneling some of that traffic over to the new interchange we can take as many as 11,000 cars a day off that boulevard and ease that congestion," said Maumelle city council member Marion Scott, who also serves as spokesperson for Maumelle Vision for the Future.
Several major retailers have shown interest in property adjacent to the proposed interchange.
"We've had interest from businesses like Target, Cabella's, Costco," she said. " So there is a lot of interest in the amount of traffic that would flow past that interchange if we can just get it built.
Supporters said the tax revenue from a 'big box' retailer would help sunset the tax.
Morgan Interchange Sewer Project
Voters will also decide on a half-cent sales tax item to fund a $2.3 million sewer project on the city's north side.
The proposal includes a pump station and gravity flight lines to feed the area along I-40 in hopes of attracting up to 100 acres of commercial development in the Morgan Interchange area.
"We actually lost one very serious business; he went to West Little Rock because he couldn't get sewer facilities out at the north entrance [of town]."
Scott said having the sewer lines ready for interested developers could help bring additional business to Maumelle.
"The $70 million our citizens spend outside the city, If we had those inside the city limits, that money would stay here," Scott said.
Public Safety Tax
Along with the temporary half-cent sales tax items, voters will decide on a permanent half-cent sales tax that would replace Maumelle's community service fee.
The fee is collected quarterly and amounts to $72 per year.
"A lot of people dislike the community service fee," Mayor Watson said. "If we go to a sales tax initiative on this and replace the community service fee, everyone who comes into Maumelle and buys some product will be helping pay for those services."
According to the ballot, the tax would fund public safety facilities and services, along with trail repairs, street lighting, and other items related to public safety.
Mayor Watson said most residents have been "receptive" to the ballot issues. However, he said proposed tax increases and the city council's choice to hold a special election have not come without some opposition.
"There's always going to be people out there that are against any tax whatsoever, and we're not going to be able to change their mind," Watson said. "But I feel very positive about it."
He urged all Maumelle to cast their ballot, regardless of their position on the ballot items.
Early Voting Times & Locations
- Pulaski County Regional Bldg, 501 W. Markham St., Little Rock
Tuesday, March 6 – Monday, March 12
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays
Tuesday, March 6th – Friday, March 9th
10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays
Polls are open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 13. Click here for a list of polling places.