Bryant officials want to add alcohol tax to November election ballot

After a great deal of discussion in a meeting late Tuesday, the Bryant Finance and Personnel Committee decided it will recommend that the City Council include an ordinance establishing an alcohol tax within the city of Bryant on the ballot for the general election in November.
According to Staff Attorney Chris Madison, a popular vote is not needed — only an ordinance; if the council approves the ordinance, it goes into effect under the guidelines of the Arkansas Municipal League.
Alderman Steve Gladden opened the discussion by asking how to get the issue on the ballot.
"It is an election year," Gladden said. He suggested the money generated from the tax be used to deal with flooding.
"It is the citizens' money. It would be money going back to them in a sense. It would give us a source of income," Gladden said.
The proposed ordinance, struck down in January, has met with opposition from local restaurant owners and the Bryant Area Chamber of Commerce.
Madison advised that if the ordinance specified that the funds be designated for storm-water remediation, then that is all the monies could be used for.
Alderman Chris Tipton agreed the ordinance should be specific, but allow additional uses for the funds — perhaps an emergency fund.
"I think absolutely we put it to the voters — give them a say — but be specific for its purposes," he said.
"Let the people have the say," Alderman Mike Chandler said.
Alderman Adrian Henley voiced his opinion.
Addressing Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs, Henley asked, "Didn't you say you weren't for it (taxes)?"
Dabbs responded that to increase taxes was not her decision to make; that it is for the council to decide.
Henley stated that the tax would not generate adequate revenue to take care of the entire flooding issue — an estimated $385, 000.
Chandler said the revenue would help.
Alderman Brenda Miller stated that she was not for the tax, but if an ordinance is drawn up, she does not want to restrict the funds to be used solely for storm-water issues.
The issue will be included on the June council meeting agenda.
Alderman Danny Steele is opposed to including the matter on the agenda.
The F and P Committee will meet next week, prior to the council meeting, to work on drafting the ordinance.
In other business, Saline County Judge Curtis Rickard introduced Judge-elect Stephanie Casady to the committee.
Rickard also offered to serve as prosecutor on a contractual basis for "a year to two." He noted he would not be considered a city employee.
"It would be something to do in my retirement," he said.
It was noted that Rickard's services would avoid the potentially perceived conflict of interest, as Judge Casady is married to Prosecutor Ken Casady.
"It would be beneficial to have Judge Rickard. He is very qualified," Madison said.
"It will help the city as far as my transition," Casady said.
The Bryant City Council will meet at 7 p.m. June 28 at Boswell Municipal Complex. The meeting is open to the public.