Wyrick: Vote separately on economic development | Arkansas Blog

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wyrick: Vote separately on economic development

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 6:08 PM

Looks like the deliberation on the sales tax proposition could take a while before the Little Rock City Board tonight.

First surprise: A suggestion by City Director B.J. Wyrick to amend the resolution calllng the election to separate as an independent question the proposal to spend $32 million on a research park and Little Rock Port expansion. She said she feared needed help for basic services, like fire and police, could fall because of objections she'd heard to the econmomic development ideas, particularly because of the lack of specificity about them. This devolved into a discussion of how much this could complicate the ballot and confuse voters. No decision yet. Mayor Stodola continues to insist that, because this money will go to publicly constituted boards, voters have an assurance of transparency. Sadly, he's wrong. The City Board's refusal to require total transparency on how the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce spends its annual taxpayer is proof enough of the emptiness of such promises.

More to come.

PS — Another City Board surprise tonight. With 24-hours notice before the closing, the city was asked to deed over its interest in the Kramer Arts Loft project to the Little Rock Redevelopment Corporation so it can refinance the apartments in the old Kramer School. Director Erma Hendrix objected to another last-minute proposition for city directors to consider. City Manager Bruce Moore said the city had little say-so in the matter. The Kramer project has long been financially troubled. I think events will eventually show that this is another problematic financial issue for the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, recently caught holding defaulted bonds issued to help Yarnell's Premium Ice Cream.

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