Hardy residents won't be voting on the sales tax that has been deliberated since March due to an unanimous decision by the Hardy City Council at their monthly meeting July 1.
Alderman Amy Hussung explained that comments collected from an unspecified number of citizens from Hardy led her to believe that the sales tax did not have a chance of being accepted.
The proposed sales tax would bring in roughly $280,000 a year, as opposed to the current sales tax revenue of roughly $257,000, and would allow more freedom for the city on how the money would be spent, according to Hussung.
Many citizens expressed concern about how the council would choose to spend the money and how the money would be regulated, according to Hussung. Another concern was that the sales tax would be applied to necessary items such as groceries and utilities at a time when food and energy prices are already rising.
"There are a lot of people in Hardy on a fixed income ... it would be a burden against them," Hussung added. "From what I've gathered, I just don't see it."
Hussung added that if Hardy citizens were to accept the proposed sales tax, there would only be six cities in the state of Arkansas that could claim a higher sales tax.
In response to the negative feedback collected by Hussung, a motion to drop the sales tax proposal was made.
After a unanimous decision to not put the sales tax on the November ballot, Alderman Bob Gilliland expressed concern about the remaining need for additional income for the city. Gilliland proposed the council deliberate a tax that would affect shops catering to tourism. According to Hardy Mayor Nina Thornton, the tourism tax is the only option the city has left to create additional revenue and an investigation will be done on what the sales tax would mean for Hardy citizens.
Recently, over $200,000 was confiscated from the Hardy Local Police and Firemen Insurance fund, LOPFI, by the state of Arkansas in response to Act 1056 of 2007. According to Thornton, for roughly 15 years individual cities in Arkansas were responsible for their local retired police officers and firemen, but the responsibility was given to the state with the new act.
The $203,972 was taken out of Hardy LOPFI funds and given to the state of Arkansas to be distributed to retirees from a state level. According to Thornton, there was enough to pay the current retired public service members from Hardy until they died. Before the money was seized, Hardy was one of only five cities in Arkansas with sufficient LOPFI funds, Thornton said.
The air conditioner in the Historic Hardy Gym "blew up," according to Thornton. The mayor presented the council with two estimates -- one for $3,700 to repair the current air conditioner, and another for $5,000 to replace the unit.
Thornton said because it was her impression the city was attempting to update the Hardy gym, she suggested a motion be made to replace the current air conditioner. It was unanimously agreed upon by the council to take $5,000 from the capitol reserve fund to replace the air conditioner.
Thornton was called to a meeting by Cherokee Village Mayor Lloyd Hefley to discuss an area of land located between Cherokee Village and Hardy that is currently not under the jurisdiction of either city. Thornton said Hefley was informing her about the "sphere of influence" that both cities have the power to assert over the unclaimed land.
Thornton attended a Cherokee Village Planning and Zoning Committee meeting July 7 at Cherokee Village City Hall, where they discussed future plans for the area and gave specific information on the "sphere of influence."
"If someone wants to put a hog farm there, right now we can't tell them they can't," Thornton cited as one reason the cities need a preemptive plan.
Thornton also addressed the issue of the previous motion to pay Main Street Hardy $400 for expenses incurred on their electric bill due to appliances owned by the city of Hardy.
"We have to change what it's for and where it came from," Thornton said.
A motion to reword the previous motion to say Main Street Hardy was paid $400 because "they did a good job for that month," instead of stating Hardy would be reimbursing them for an electric bill, was unanimously agreed upon by the council.
Due to exceptions made in the past for local flea markets to set up without paying the mandated $50 business fee, Thornton said a motion to obey Ordinance 93-3 with no exceptions needs to be made. The ordinance states, "the fee shall be collected from each business or individual performing an occupation or professional activity within the city limits," and an unanimous decision was made to obey the law with no exceptions.
The Hardy Garden Club was represented by Freda Gamblin who informed the citizens and the council that flowers had been planted by the gym and permanent flowers would be planted this fall.
She also announced that a smokers' bench was placed by the gym along with cigarette receptacles to avoid unnecessary littering of the garden beds. The Garden Club posted "no smoking" signs along with the smoking accommodations in areas where smoking is prohibited and will be going back to the drawing board on the memorial garden for Helga Helfrich.