Both Sides Speak About Controversy Brewing in Trumann


There's some turmoil brewing in the city of Trumann.  Six months after Mayor Sheila Walters took office some residents are trying to get her removed.

You may remember Walters won the position by chance.  There was a tie in the race and the election was decided when she drew her name out of a box.

Some changes have been made since she took office; changes that aren't sitting well with some residents.

Jay Paul Woods is one member of the Trumann Community that said he feels the city is moving in the wrong direction.

"We did some research and found that in the state of Arkansas the mayor can be recalled," said Woods.

Mayor Sheila Walters found out about this movement on Wednesday and said this is an unexpected turn of events.

"I'm concerned that there are three parts to this issue and I don't have control over two of those parts," said Walters.

The grievances given by the group are an increase of the franchise tax, the disbandment of the city's water and sewer commission, and the recent firing of parks director Sharron Turman.

"The firing of Sharron Turman just kind of culminated and that's where the biggest part of this came from," said Woods.

Mayor Walters said the firing had nothing to do with Turman personally, it was a business decision.

"Back in march Sharon and I discussed the possibility of deleting that position.  It had to do with budget issues," said Walters.

Walters says like many cities, Trumann has some financial problems.

"I'm just here to do a job and do what I was elected to do.  The biggest bulk of my job is the budget for the city," said Walters.

Woods says that's not the only issue.  A proposed franchise tax, he says, would increase taxes for residents.

"It was requested that the franchise tax be increased to five percent, which is the maximum the state allows," said Woods.

This is one issue Walters said the city council will vote on.  The final reading won't be until August.

"It gives the public time to give their input to the council members.  That way when they vote on it they will know what the citizens of Trumann want," said Walters.

Another key issue for the petition holders is the disbandment of the city's water and sewer commission.

"It was brought up and was discussed for 20-30 minutes and it was voted on," said Woods.

"I actually was not allowed to vote on that.  It was an issue brought up and I was in favor of it," said Walters.

According to Arkansas law a mayor can be removed from office by a recall vote.  In order to get the recall election a petition has to be collected.

There has to be enough signatures to equal 35% of the vote in the last general election.  All of the signers must be registered voters.

There were over 1,700 votes in the last election.

The ballot would allow people to vote for the removal of Sheila Walters as mayor or against it.

People began collecting signatures for the petitions on Monday.