Friday, August 4, 2017

City council, school board meet next week for pressing matters

Several pressing matters will be addressed in special meetings next week by the respective bodies of Marion City Council and Crittenden County Board of Education.

On Monday, the board of education will meet to take the next step in the recallable, equivalent nickel school tax increase approved in June for school construction. County Clerk Carolyn Byford plans to deliver the certified petition to recall the 5.9-cent property tax, which aims to put the levy's ultimate fate in the hands of voters. At the 4 p.m. meeting, the board will consider approval of the petition verification by the clerk and also consider approval of ballot language should the five-member elected body choose to move forward with a special election.

The board can challenge the petition verification, opt to forego the tax or schedule the vote for between 35 and 45 days of certification (Sept. 11-21). The board has 15 days to make that decision.

Should they choose to schedule a special countywide election, it would have to be for a Tuesday, according to Byford. That means an election would be either Sept. 12 or 19. However, setting the date for a special election is not on Monday's meeting agenda issued by the board.

The board of education will also set its tax rate for 2017 bills. Last year's rate was 46.3 cents per $100 valuation of real estate. Board Chairman Chris Cook said the tax rate set Monday should not include the additional 5.9 cents.

The following day, Marion City Council will introduce an ordinance setting its 2017 tax rate, but that will take a second reading before it becomes final. Last year's rate was 22.4 cents on real property.

But more pressing on Tuesday will be the matter of Country Club Drive. On the agenda is discussion of plans for the street after a major repair now underway is completed.

Currently, the city street is closed to all through traffic at the site of the repair, which officials hope is completed by the time school is back in session Aug. 16. But the council last week voted to indefinitely dead-end Country Club Drive at Chapel Hill Road following the repair. The hope is to eliminate heavy industrial traffic blamed for the street's continuing demise.

The intent, it appears, is to force the state to take over maintenance of Country Club Drive or alleviate the problems presented at the U.S. 60/U.S. 641 stoplight for large trucks making turns, particularly right-hand turns. If either happens, which would likely be years in the making, Country Club Drive would then be reopened to through traffic, connecting U.S. 60 and U.S. 641 by way of Country Club and Industrial drives, both currently city-maintained.

It is unclear if the council will reverse that decision Tuesday evening. The meeting begins at 5 p.m.

Also on the agenda is appointing Misty Porter to Marion-Crittenden County Park Board.