Special election set for May 18

A ballot measure to add park maintenance to the possible uses of the Hotel-Motel-Restaurant (HMR) tax will reach voters on May 18, the same day as the primary elections.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, aldermen approved putting the issue on the ballot in a 7-0 vote.

Though the measure received support from aldermen, and Mayor Lioneld Jordan pledged his full support of the change in his state of the city address two weeks ago, Alderman Matthew Petty encouraged the council to promote the initiative to ensure its passage.

“We better be prepared to do some campaigning,” he said. “I don’t think this is going to be quite the slam dunk maybe we had thought a few weeks ago.”

The ballot initiative will not raise the tax, but rather, will authorize HMR funds to be used for park maintenance.

When the HMR tax was approved in 1995, the City Council had intended the money to be used for maintenance, Alderman Bobby Ferrell said. But, on the actual ballot, the only possible uses for the funds were promotion and development of the parks.

“To me it’s very plain,” Ferrell said. “If you read the minutes of the meeting, the intent was for the construction, building and maintenance.”

Sarah Lewis, Ward 4 council member, said she had heard a concern that adding maintenance would take away from building new parks.

Alderman Kyle Cook answered the critique by saying the maintenance of city parks has been squeezed in years past.

“If we can’t maintain the level that our citizens deserve, then we shouldn’t be building new ones,” Cook said.

The ballot will look like this on May 18:

FOR proposed Ordinance No._ amending Ordinance No. 3900 by authorizing and dedicating the revenue from the existing Parks Hotel, Motel and Restaurant tax to be used for the development, construction and maintenance of city parks.

AGAINST proposed Ordinance No._ amending Ordinance No. 3900 by authorizing and dedicating the revenue from the existing Parks Hotel, Motel and Restaurant tax to be used for the development, construction and maintenance of city parks.

Mary Robbins is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She declared Fayetteville as her hometown upon moving here for college. She is a Journalism graduate who enjoys live music, the outdoors and attending city council meetings. For more of Mary’s contributions, visit her author page.

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