Those concerned about Conway Mayor Tab Townsell’s proposed increases to the city’s franchise fees, personal property taxes and millage still have time to voice their opinion.
The deadline for members of the Conway City Council to make a decision regarding the proposed increases has been moved back to Dec. 20.
The Faulkner County Quorum Court will meet after that date to approve annual millages and tax rates for the county
Townsell unveiled the proposal to increase revenue for the city’s 2011 budget during the last meeting of the Conway City Council.
“Whether it’s taxes, millage or fees — we’re a bargain in the city of Conway,” Townsell said.
The mayor gave a presentation featuring comparisons of the city’s sales tax revenues, franchise fees and millage to other comparable cities in the state.
“We’re about $3.6 million out from where we can project revenues this year,” Townsell said. “If we can’t make that number go away, we’re getting into cuts in services, unless we can find additional revenue.”
The proposal includes a millage increase of 1.0 above the city’s current 1.9 mil on property taxes, a 1 percent increase on the electric franchise fee; an increase of 1.25 percent on the city’s water franchise fee, a 1.25 percent increase to the sewer franchise fee and a 1 percent increase to the city’s alcohol tax.
Townsell said on Thursday that he hopes to see the proposal passed by the city council.
“I see ourselves having made such great progress in the last decade in terms of building quality of place — I hate to go back on that now,” Townsell said.
Townsell said he feels that even with rate increases, Conway can remain positioned as a low-cost service provider in the state.
“Everyone is talking about making cuts before making increases — well, we’ve been making cuts for years,” Townsell said. “We’re entering our third straight year of making cuts, and if we continue, the budgets we will have to cut next will relate directly to services people see on a day-to-day basis.”
Townsell acknowledged he has heard criticisms relating to the city’s parks and recreation expenditures.
“Yes, we have put a lot into our parks department over the last five years, but the reason we did that was because we had such miserable parks and recreation facilities in place,” Townsell said. “Quality of place as it contributes to quality of life is extremely important and parks and recreation is an important of that -— it’s not just for our use, it’s also for economic development purposes and I see that as being very important to the city.”
Parks and recreation, he said, is “definitely not as important” as police and fire. “But not so unimportant we can afford to lessen quality,” Townsell said.
A special city council meeting will be held before Dec. 20 to hear public input on the issue, the date of which is yet to be determined.
(Staff writer Megan Reynolds can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 501-505-1277. To comment on this story and others, visit www.thecabin.net)