TOWN HALL MEETING: Panel Highlights Projects

PLANS IN MOTION FOR TAX VOTE, ONGOING CONSTRUCTION

— A panel of city officials highlighted a range of recent and upcoming projects during a town hall meeting Monday at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.

Monday’s presentations — intended for Ward 3 residents living in northeast Fayetteville — started and ended with comments by Mayor Lioneld Jordan, who emphasized the importance of an Oct. 11 sales tax referendum.

Voters will decide then whether to extend the city’s 1-cent sales tax for another 10 years.

The tax, which otherwise would expire in June 2013, was first approved in April 1993 by a 3,675 to 619 margin.

Jordan and Paul Becker, finance director, said eliminating the sales tax would slash approximately $15.4 million — or 13 percent — from Fayetteville’s $118.5 million overall budget. That could mean cutting a number of capital improvements and terminating as many as 150 city employees.

“Those positions add up to the services that you’re accustomed to in this city,” Jordan told about 10 residents who came to Monday’s meeting.

“This is something you all have to do as citizens,” he said.

Only two residents asked questions during a question-and-answer portion of Monday’s event, but several city aldermen raised issues on residents’ behalf.

Ward 3 Alderman Justin Tennant asked what Arkansas 265 would look like when construction is complete.

City Engineer Chris Brown said the road widening project, which is expected to go out to bid next month, would generally follow Crossover Road’s existing alignment.

The more than $15 million project will add additional northbound and southbound lanes, bicycle lanes and improved sidewalks along Crossover from Mission Boulevard to the city limits north of Lake Fayetteville.

All work is expected to be complete in about three years.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Brown said, adding, “We’re really interested in seeing that project move forward.”

Terry Gulley, Transportation Services director, updated residents on the city’s revised focus on drainage problems following spring flooding.

By reassigning three transportation crews to focus solely on drainage issues, Gulley said his division has addressed 117 problem spots since the City Council approved the reassignments and a $300,000 transfer out of the city’s paving, sidewalk and trail funds in June.

Gulley said problems have been as small as clogged pipes and as large as complete culvert replacements.

A date has not been set for the mayor’s Ward 4 town hall meeting later this year.