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New Facilities Depend on Extension of 1-cent Sales Tax

Brooke Burger
Managing Editor

   Monticello's ten-year one-cent sales tax that began in 1997 will expire Dec. 31. The city will have the chance to vote on a renewal of the tax as early as June.  While "tax" and "expire" in the same sentence may make some happy, the extension of this tax will greatly benefit the city.

Photo by Eric Bell
W.C. Whaley - Monticello purchased the run-down school on North Main in 2001 for $140,000 according to an article in MonticelloLive.com.

   Mayor Joe Rogers recently proposed a new community center to be built where the W.C. Whaley Elementary school currently stands.  The city purchased the vandalized and dilapidated school from the school district in 2001.  If the one-cent sales tax is renewed, the lot on North Main would become home to the new community center as well as a new fire department.

   The current city facilities, including the fire and police departments, are in poor condition.  The current location does not provide enough space for efficient work.  Many of the police department's files end up in the basement because of a lack of storage space.  This may be an acceptable alternative if the basement did not leak.

   The current city offices do not have enough space for all the employees and office equipment. The fire department's facilities are in equally poor condition with room for only two bays.  The relocation of these city facilities would allow for more space and improved working conditions.

   Rogers plans to base the new facility on a 50,000-square-foot community center in Sherwood.  The recreation center would hold an indoor basketball court, elevated walking track, fitness room, three small conference rooms and two large conference rooms.  In addition, the center will provide childcare and food services and hold an eight-lane heated swimming pool.  Membership fees would cover operating costs.

Photo by Eric Bell
Sherwood Community Center - If the one-cent sales tax renewal passes, plans would go into effect to build a similar community center in place of the Whaley school.

   The municipal offices will also be relocated to a central location in the complex.  The civic part of the complex will hold the water department, mayor's office, city council chambers, Monticello Economic Development Commission and the chamber of commerce.  The plan also includes building a new fire department with three bays in a separate building on the lot. 

   Rogers would like to build a new district court and police department in place of the old post office and a new parking lot in place of the current city offices and fire department with the one-cent tax.  The sales tax can also provide funds for more police cars and fire trucks.

   A community meeting concerning the plans for the one-cent sales tax took place in the Fine Arts Center Feb. 22.  During the meeting, bond firms Stephens Co. and Morgan Keegan & Co. discussed the funds that would be allocated from a one-half cent bond if voters renew the one-cent sales tax.  If half a cent is bonded from the one-cent sales tax, it would provide approximately $9 million for the community center.  The remaining revenue will go towards other city improvements.

  The sale of bonds would allow for construct to begin soon after the one-cent sales tax goes into effect, which will be January 2008 if the tax passes. The issue may be on the ballot by June or July, and voters will have the option to levy the tax for 15 years.  Voters will be able to decide on each part of the project separately, as each issue and its cost will appear on the ballot.

   For more information, contact Rogers at 870-367-4400 or montcity@ccc-cable.net.  To register to vote, contact the Drew County Courthouse at 870-460-6260 or the Monticello Branch Library at 870-367-8583.

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ŠThe Voice 2007
10/29/2007 06:17:43 PM — http://www.uamont.edu/organizations/thevoice/4_24/tax.htm