Walnut Ridge hopes for consolidation with Hoxie in 2017

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) - Walnut Ridge held a city council meeting Monday night where Mayor Charles Snapp mentioned his hope for another consolidation in his State of the City Address.

Snapp said in light of the success they have had from the consolidation of College City, they plan to look closer at Hoxie as another way to improve the quality of life for everyone.

"The main thing is that we are making progress faster than what most people believed was possible," Snapp said. "We still have hurdles but if we can get more people in our city, we can overcome many things."

Snapp said having College City be a part of their city has grown their population as well as growing their franchise tax base and sales tax base.

"College City was well managed before we consolidated and now that we have, we have over $140,000 more from their savings that will be put to good use," said Snapp. "We can use that money for more projects such as improving the drainage in the College City area of Walnut Ridge."

With so many positives behind consolidating with College City, Snapp and his committee are looking closely at considering the financial impact of consolidating with Hoxie again.

"It is about the towns," said Snapp. "It is about a population that could be over 8,000 people that would attract far more businesses and eliminate duplications and improve the quality of life in my opinion."

Snapp said this will also help with liability concerns with their first responders. For example, if a Walnut Ridge or Hoxie police officer gets hurt on the job outside their city limits, they would have an idea of who is responsible for the medical bills depending on where they are located.

"We brought that issue up for council just so they are aware of the situation," said Snapp. "We have our police and fire chief getting a report together that would help come up with an agreement the council will look at for a solution on the state level or at least the municipal league and common insurance providers."

Though Snapp said the consolidation of Hoxie and Walnut Ridge would be a great benefit for both cities, Hoxie Mayor Lanny Tinker disagrees.

"Hoxie is in good shape," said Tinker. "I do not see a need to consolidate. We, as a city, would love to be in a partnership with Walnut Ridge for economic developments, but if it means giving up our independence, then we are not interested."

Other plans discussed in the council meeting is budgeting in two officers on duty at all times so that even if an officer is called to back up another officer in a different city, Walnut Ridge would always be covered.

Snapp said he feels many things were accomplished in the meeting and he looks forward to growing Walnut Ridge economically in 2017.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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