The Greenbrier City Council passed three ordinances to go before residents in a special election regarding a sales tax increase to help fund two city projects.
The projects at hand include a $2.2 million bond debt to finance the renovation and/or construction of a new fire station and a $3.8 million bond debt to finance park facilities and other related park improvements.
Mayor Sammy Joe Hartwick said the city plans to move to a full-time, paid fire department within the next few years, making improvements to the current fire department at 6 North Broadview St. necessary.
Fire Chief Tim Tyler said volunteer firefighters will have responded to more than 900 calls by the end of the year and that he expects more calls each year as the city continues to grow.
Shellie O’Quinn, Greenbrier City Event Center director, said the city needs to expand its fire department on Broadview Street to better equip the city’s emergency personnel.
"Our fire department responds to a large number of calls, and the existing station is pretty crowded," she said. "They can’t park the bigger trucks at the main station, so if a larger truck is needed, they have to drive it from the Springhill station. The new station will be able to accommodate the larger equipment. Also, eventually the fire department will need to be staffed at all times. The new station will have living quarters for the on-duty firemen."
Officials are asking residents to vote in favor of a three-eighths of 1 percent (0.375 percent) sales and use tax increase to help fund the bonds for the new fire department along with financing park facilities as the city moves forward with Matthews Park.
As the ordinance reads: "[T]he City Council of the City of Greenbrier, Arkansas (the ‘City’) has determined that it would be in the best interest of the City to (a) finance all or a portion of the costs of firefighting facilities, including particularly, without limitation, the construction of a new fire station at its current site, and any parking, equipment and furnishings therefor … and (b) finance all or a portion of the costs of park facilities and related improvements including particularly, without limitations, any parking, equipment, lighting and utility improvements therefor."
The two require separate votes. Voting for one or both projects will result in the same rate of increase (0.375 percent) to taxpayers temporarily. The tax is set up to sunset once the bond debt is paid off.
The city is also asking for a permanent one-eighth of 1 percent (0.125 percent) sales and use tax increase "to pay and secure the repayment of bonds approved by the voters and issued by the City from time to time to finance capital improvements [and] for park and recreational purposes."
In all, the city is asking residents to allow a city-wide sales tax increase of 0.5 percent.
Greenbrier’s current tax rate is 2 percent. If all issues pass, the tax rate would become 2.5 percent until the debts are paid.
Read Sunday’s edition for more information regarding the proposed projects. The special election will be held Feb. 13, 2018.