HOXIE, AR (KAIT) - The Keep Hoxie-Hoxie Committee met Thursday night for the first time since Mayor Lanny Tinker formed it in February.
The main goal of the meeting was to discuss their goals and get briefed on the city's budget.
The goals of the committee was described is to conduct a fact-based assessment of economic impact and community identity, develop an educational program to inform citizens about how the process of consolidation might be implemented including both positive and negative aspects, and to analyze the impact that consolidation will have on jobs.
The city's bookkeeper told committee members the city has never had trouble paying their bills or employee payroll.
He said the Hoxie Budget Committee has been good with estimating the anticipated revenue each year.
"They had budgeted $911,950 was budgeted," he said. "The budget was $891,697 so obviously they did a good job."
That was about the budget set for 2016.
He also said the general fund has stayed around $250,000 for the past 15 years, while he has been keeping the books.
Mayor Tinker said the Walnut Ridge committee said Hoxie's budget is declining, but he said that is just not true.
It was said during the meeting that a difference in where the street department funds are deposited now versus in 2010 may be the reason for the discrepancy.
Darrell Pickney, a committee member, said during the meeting that he is glad the numbers show they don't have to consolidate for the city to be stable, but he hopes the committee will look at if there are positives to it.
He said he wants a "good, deep study" to see what the advantages are and if consolidation could bring more jobs to the area.
Mayor Tinker said they are actually sitting better today than they ever have to bring more jobs into Hoxie.
He was mainly talking about a new development planned for the south part of town.
Lida Tinker, Mayor Tinker's wife, is the secretary of the committee. She compiled a history of media coverage since the Walnut Ridge Economic Impact Committee was formed in May 2016.
She said the committee needs to compare their findings to Walnut Ridge's because she thinks a lot of it is opinion.
There was a lot of discussion from citizens during the meeting.
One woman said every city deals with issues like drainage and road problems, but consolidation will not fix those. She said it's about more than that.
People talked about maintaining the identity of the town.
Another citizen said she wants to see people get more informed on what the city is currently doing for them before making a decision on consolidation. She said instead of arguments, she hopes the committee presents solid facts and figures.
Pickney said there was a lot of venting at the meeting Thursday night and he hopes future meetings are more productive.
"I have no personal hopes," Pickney said. "I hope we can present the facts and tell the public either we think that this would be good for both cities or we think that Hoxie will not benefit and we should stay as Hoxie…based on the facts."
He said emotions should not play a huge factor in what their committee is trying to do.
"I think we gotta get away from the immature feelings and see what is best for this area in the long run," Pickney said.
The next Keep Hoxie-Hoxie Committee meeting is March 28 at 6:30 p.m.
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