MH Council approves ordinances, special election for proposed community center complex set for May 12

Photo: Mountain Home residents will have the opportunity to decide on the construction of the Mountain Home Community Complex in McCabe Park in a special election on May 12. The complex would include a competition pool like this one in Batesville.

The Mountain Home City Council suspended the rules for adopting ordinances over multiple sessions and unanimously approved measures Thursday evening calling for a special election May 12 for a proposed community/aquatic center at McCabe Park.

Council members Bob Van Haaren, Jennifer Baker, Wayne Almond, Paige Dillard Evans, Don Webb and Jim Bodenhamer voted in favor of the ordinances, with James Whalen and Eva Frame absent due to illness.

In a surprise announcement at the conclusion of the meeting, Webb informed the media he would not seek re-election to his Ward 3, Position 2 seat in November’s General Election.

The ordinances approved Thursday called for a special election to levy a one-half cent sales and use tax to finance the construction and a one-quarter sales and use tax for maintenance and operation of the facility, now named the Mountain Home Community Center Complex.

The total cost of the proposal is estimated at $38.4 million, $36.2 million of which would be used to not only construct the new facility but overhaul features at every site in the Mountain Home Parks System.

Bodenhamer spoke to the assembled crowd after passage of the ordinances, calling it a step forward for the city. The Mountain Home retiree discusses the benefits of the proposal.

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City officials will deliver the ordinances to Baxter County and Circuit Clerk Canda Reese on Friday morning to expedite the filing procedure, allowing the special election to be conducted in May.

Mountain Home Mayor Hillrey Adams says the choice of a May date is extremely important.

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Adams says the next step will be continuing to educate the public on the proposal, including preparation of materials for distribution.

Listen:

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Paul Phillips, senior managing director of Crews & Associates, the firm that would be tasked with handling the bond issue, told the council if tax revenues remain at current levels, the half-cent tax would be retired in 19 years. Increases in tax collections would result in a quicker payoff.

After the facility is paid off, the half-cent tax would sunset. The quarter-cent tax would be permanent for not only maintaining and operation of the community complex, but the parks system as well.

Crews & Associates has a long-term relationship with the city, including issuances of previous bonds, like water and sewer improvements.

The council also heard the need for passage of both ballot measures. Passage of only the half-cent tax would allow the facility to be built, only to leave the city without the maintenance and operation funds provided by the quarter-cent tax.

Estimates for the half-cent sales tax indicate approximately $2.5 million would be raised yearly to pay off the bond, while the quarter-cent tax would produce just over $1.2 million for maintenance and operation.

The sales tax rate inside the Mountain Home city limits would rise to 9.875 percent with approval of both proposed measures. The new taxes would amount to an additional 75 cents per $100 spent in the city, according to estimates.

KTLO, Classic Hits & The Boot news will have more information on the project in upcoming reports.

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