BROOKLAND, AR (KAIT) - Voters in Brookland and a proposed annexation area went to the polls Tuesday in a special election. According to Mayor Kenneth Jones, the city is trying to increase the local sales tax by two-percent and annex 4,600 acres of land surrounding the city limits.
"Our density level is more than 1,000 people per square mile and per capita. That knocks us out of a lot of the grants that we've applied for," said Jones.
Jones said the city has been dealing with problems related to drainage and roadway maintenance, but he said the city doesn't have enough money to complete related projects.
"We're going to be able to generate some cash flow to do some projects that we desperately need to do within our city," said Jones.
According to Jones' estimates, the city is projected to raise an additional $175,000 each year if annexation and sales tax increase are approved by voters.
According to Jones, 38% of sales tax revenue would go to street improvements, 26% to drainage, 8% would replace a 5% franchise tax, 7% would go to utility improvements, 5% to sidewalks and the remainder to parks and recreation.
"Our sidewalks and roads have been neglected just due to lack of money. It's not any of the previous mayors' faults. Brookland has operated with what they've received and basically that's been state turnback money," said Jones.
According to Jones, the city operates on $1.2 million per year. The majority of that money, Jones said, is state turnback funds. Jones said the budget for roadway maintenance has doubled due to the amount of heavy traffic.
"We're limited in what we can do and that's how Brookland has gotten in the condition it's in. Our streets and our sidewalks because we just haven't had extra money for preventative maintenance and upkeep on these things," said Jones.
Region 8 News asked voters Tuesday how they voted. Those who opposed annexation mostly lived outside Brookland city limits.
"One of the biggest concerns for the people out in the proposed annexation area is, we don't want to go by your rules and regulations, your ordinances are too strict. The thing is that you don't realize is all city ordinances are state laws," said Jones.
One resident who lives outside the city limits said he voted in favor of annexation so he could eventually improve his home's sewage. He said the city made it clear in a public meeting that some residents could get new sewage south of a possible industrial park, which would be located near Jonesboro's industrial area.
"It's up Rogers Chapel Road, which connects with the Jonesboro Industrial Park. We think that's a great location for future businesses, either in a supportive role or in an individual role," said Rogers.
"With the annexation, you can plan for your future growth and that's the master plan," said Jones. "We're looking to be a bedroom community to Jonesboro and Paragould. We're looking to bring businesses to town that will support some of the businesses that are already in town."
Lonnie Pyle has been a resident of Brookland for 26 years. He said he voted in favor of annexation, but against a sales tax increase.
"I voted against a sales tax increase because I feel all of our taxes, as a whole, are too high," said Pyle. "It's true. We need some work done in the city and the county but our taxes are too high the way they are."
Pyle said he wanted the city to expand its boundaries. He said the addition of property for possible use of industry would be a good thing.
"Brookland has always been known as a city that needed drainage and we've lived over on Oak Meadow Circle for 26 years. It's been a sore spot for us all of this time," said Pyle.
Regardless of the vote, Jones said opponents of the annexation measure could file an appeal.