North Little Rock: Again with the midnight meetings | Arkansas Blog

Friday, September 16, 2011

North Little Rock: Again with the midnight meetings

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2011 at 6:10 AM

BIG STICK: Mayor Hays wields one in NLR.
  • BIG STICK: Mayor Hays wields one in NLR.
The city of North Little Rock sent out an e-mail at 7:30 p.m. last night about a special City Council meeting at 10 a.m. this morning to call a Nov. 8 special election on two half-cent sales tax proposals — a permanent half-cent to be split between operations and capital expenses and a five-year tax of a half-cent to be spent on capital projects.

Thoughts:

* It's wrong to undertake such momentous city business on such short notice. The public is effectively shut out of participation in the decision. (Not that it would have turned out any differently.) OK, it isn't quite midnight, like the New Year's Eve meeting the mayor and his legal stooge cooked up to ram an illegal tax district plan down taxpayers' throats, but close enough in spirit.

* It appears to follow the Little Rock model with the sham differentiation between operating and capital costs. That's how Little Rock pitched its recent $500 million sales tax increase, but the ballot measures allowed the money to be spent any way the city chooses — all for a mansion for Mayor Mark Stodola and Ferraris for the board of directors if they were to choose to be so brazen.

* North Little Rock, too, is getting into corporate welfare in a big way. Mayor Pat Hays wants to buy 2,000 acres (from whom?; for how much?) for a business park and perhaps grounds for relocation of the State Fair. He hasn't yet gone the next step, as Little Rock has, to offer both free land AND a free building to private enterprise (where some of the rest of us in private business pay our own way.) He won't get the State Fair without coming up with building construction money, too. The State Fair Association has virtually no cash on hand for construction. Then there's operating costs (another important cost that Little Rock city fathers managed to omit discussing in touting the glories of the new research park. Salaries? Utilities? Management fees? Manana. Manana, too, is the likely need to issue bonds to build the research park, which will double the cost through interest charges and take that much money away from the lovely specific list of benefits promised taxpayer, but not likely to be delivered by Little Rock leaders.) Finally, is there a better example of the mutually assured destruction of corporate welfare? One city taxes poor people's groceries to come up with bribe money to lure a business from one side of a river to another? This is a benefit to the metro area how exactly?

* Mayor Hays makes mention of a contribution to city schools, which will be asking voters for a 7-plus mill tax increase next year for a major building program. He should well send some dough to schools if he raises $15 million in new dollars a year given his midnight raid on schools a few years ago to set up an illegal Tax Increment Finance District to capture school property tax money from a new apartment building. That district remains in litigation and a bribe to the school district, which is suing, won't cure the complaint of the intervenor, businessman Frank Fletcher, who objects to the city stealing school tax money to build a free parking garage for a new hotel to compete with his hotel, which paid for its own parking lot.

If past is prologue, Commodore Hays will get all this done. However much I might sometimes disagree with some of the specifics, I have to admire his aggressive, can-do style. He told me at the Rep Tuesday night, by the way, that he was most unlikely to make a race for Congress. And he will NOT be running for that open Senate seat in North Little Rock. The remaining question is whether he'll seek re-election next year.

UPDATE: Council members, though not the public, got this notice last night:

Honorable Members of the North Little Rock City Council:

The purpose of this e-mail is to advise you that Mayor Hays has called a special meeting of the North Little Rock City Council at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 16, 2011, at City Hall, Council Chambers, North Little Rock, Arkansas. The following will be on the agenda:

1) R-11-150 — A RESOLUTION EXPRESSING THE CITY COUNCIL’S INTENT REGARDING THE USE OF REVENUES TO BE DERIVED FROM THE PROPOSED ONE-HALF PERCENT SALES AND USE TAX TO BE DIVIDED EVENLY BETWEEN CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS AND GENERAL EXPENSES; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. Sponsor: Mayor Patrick H. Hays

2) R-11-151 — A RESOLUTION EXPRESSING THE CITY COUNCIL’S INTENT REGARDING THE USE OF REVENUES TO BE DERIVED FROM THE PROPOSED ONE-HALF PERCENT SALES AND USE TAX TO BE LEVIED UNTIL MARCH 31, 2017 AND USED FOR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. Sponsor: Mayor Patrick H. Hays

3) O-11-56 — AN ORDINANCE PROVIDING FOR THE LEVY OF A ONE-HALF PERCENT SALES AND USE TAX WITHIN THE CITY OF NORTH LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS TO BE DIVIDED EVENLY FOR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS AND GENERAL EXPENDITURES; AND PRESCRIBING OTHER MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO. Sponsor: Mayor Patrick H. Hays

4) O-11-57 — AN ORDINANCE CALLING A SPECIAL ELECTION IN THE CITY OF NORTH LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS ON THE QUESTION OF LEVYING A ONE-HALF PERCENT SALES AND USE TAX WITHIN THE CITY OF NORTH LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS TO BE DIVIDED EVENLY FOR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS AND GENERAL EXPENDITURES; DECLARING AN EMERGENCY; AND PRESCRIBING OTHER MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO. Sponsor: Mayor Patrick H. Hays

5) O-11-58 — AN ORDINANCE PROVIDING FOR THE LEVY OF A ONE-HALF PERCENT SALES AND USE TAX WITHIN THE CITY OF NORTH LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS UNTIL MARCH 31, 2017 TO BE USED FOR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS; AND PRESCRIBING OTHER MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO. Sponsor: Mayor Patrick H. Hays

6) O-11-59 — AN ORDINANCE CALLING A SPECIAL ELECTION IN THE CITY OF NORTH LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS ON THE QUESTION OF LEVYING A ONE-HALF PERCENT SALES AND USE TAX WITHIN THE CITY OF NORTH LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS UNTIL MARCH 31, 2017 TO BE USED FOR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS; DECLARING AN EMERGENCY; AND PRESCRIBING OTHER MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO. Sponsor: Mayor Patrick H. Hays

Pursuant to Sec. 2-48(2) of the North Little Rock Municipal Code, you are entitled to 72 hours’ electronic notice of this meeting. I am admittedly sending this email without 72 hours’ notice. You may choose to waive the notice requirement. Similarly, you may choose not to waive the notice requirement. If a member of City Council chooses not to waive the notice requirement, the meeting will not be effective. In order to keep our records in order, I ask that you respond to this email and indicate whether you agree to waive notice of this special meeting.

Respectfully submitted,

C. Jason Carter

City Attorney

300 Main Street

P.O. Box 5757

North Little Rock, Arkansas 72119

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