Administrators discuss one-cent sales tax

City managers discussed the current percentage breakdown of the permanent one-cent sales tax at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

According to city administrator Phillip Patterson, the one-cent sales tax is a permanent tax established in 1978 and is split with 80% of the funds going to the streets department and 20% to the general fund.

In 2013, residents voted to change the tax where 40% went to street service, 20% to the police department, 20% to firefighters and 20% to the general fund, Patterson said.

The amendment is due to expire in 2023 and the percentages would revert to the original 80/20 unless voters decide to make the tax permanent or extend it for another 10 years, Patterson said.

Patterson said that in order for the matter to come to a vote of the people, the city council must approve an ordinance to maintain the tax changes by the second meeting in August, which will take place on Tuesday, August 16.

During this meeting, Patterson asked the board if they wanted to keep the changes to the tax choosing from several options.

The options Patterson offered were to let the split revert to 80/20 or renew the current split of 40% streets, 20% police, 20% fire and 20% general fund.

Administrators also had the ability to choose the option to change the allocation, Patterson said.

The proposed modified splits were to have 45% for street service, 35% for public safety, and 20% for the general fund; or that 50% go to street service, 30% to public safety and 20% to the general fund, Patterson said.

Patterson visited several civic organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, as well as the Board of Directors of the Siloam Springs and Main Street Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce to speak tax, he said.

“I explained to them that in this one-cent sales tax, we’re usually talking about close to $5,400,000,” Patterson said. “I just rounded it up to $5 million for that one-cent sales tax. … In 2021, $2 million went to the streets, $1 million went to the fires for equipment, 1 million dollars went to the police for equipment and $1 million went to the general fund.”

Police Chief Allan Gilbert and Fire Chief Jeremey Criner were on hand to discuss what the tax has done for their departments and what they plan to buy if the tax changes become permanent.

Gilbert said he used the funds to improve the department’s cache of weapons, which were mainly from the Vietnamese era and to change the way police vehicles were used by changing their operating time from 24 hours a day. by having only two agents driving a vehicle instead of four.

The chief also used the funds to connect dispatch and patrol vehicles to the Arkansas Wireless Information Network (AWIN) system.

Looking to the future, Gilbert is considering software upgrades, building a training facility, and even buying a transport van to transport prisoners to Benton County Jail every hour instead of transport prisoners when they are arrested on the spot, he said.

Criner said he would also like to retain the funding and listed the items needed and the dollar amounts for each item and the fire department has offered approximately $22 million over the next 15 years of projected revenue.

One of the projects Criner wanted to complete was to build a fourth fire station in Siloam Springs along with related equipment and personnel.

“There are obviously a lot of variables in there, we can’t predict the future,” Criner said. “A lot can change if we have significant growth if we have a significant increase in response tasks or response area.”

City managers weighed in on the tax and how the city should proceed. Director Lesa Rissler said she was open to the second or third option and not making the changes permanent, but rather extending the tax changes for only another 10 years.

“I think it’s important that we fund our public safety,” Rissler said. “As we grow, I want to stay safe in my community”

Director Marla Sappington agreed with Rissler to only extend the edits for another 10 years and that she was inclined to option two or three.

The second option was what manager Brad Burns said the city should opt to make it permanent. Directors Reid Carroll, Mindy Hunt and Carol Smiley also opted to make the changes permanent. As for which option the city should choose, Hunt said she was comfortable with option three, Carroll and Smiley preferred option two.

Director David Allen was absent.

“I would like to see us go with number two so we can maintain where we are,” Carroll said. “I would like this to become permanent so that we have the opportunity to plan for the future, but I think it would be wise for us to reassess at least every five years to review this and see where we are.

City managers also approved the following:

Consent Program

• A grant application and acceptance of the grant offer from the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics in the amount of $25,000 for the rehabilitation of the hangar.

• Consecration of utility easements for 507 North Madison Street.

• Consecration of utility easements for 22218 Farley Road.

• Resolution 32-22 regarding a special purpose development permit for 415 A South Maxwell St.

• Resolution 33-22 regarding a special purpose development permit for 200 S. College St.

• Resolution 34-22 regarding the use of another cash flow projection valuation to show the actuarial soundness of the Siloam Springs Firefighters Pension Fund.

Minutes

• Regular minutes of the municipal council meeting of May 17th.

orders

• Place Ordinance 22-13 amending the city’s noise code at second reading.

• Place Order 22-14 regarding the vacancy of an unnamed right of way for the 900 block of East Tahlequah Street at first reading.

Resolutions

• Resolution 35-22 regarding the final flat development permit for the 3100 to 3400 block of East Kenwood Street.

• Resolution 36-22 regarding fencing around retention ponds.

• Resolution 37-22 regarding the NWARPC Transportation Alternative Grant Program application for the Progress Avenue sidewalk.

Staff reports

• April financial statements.

• Administrator’s report.