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Brookland mayor excited for extended bond tax approval, disappointed in low voter turnout

Published: Jun. 8, 2021 at 8:26 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 6:31 PM CDT
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BROOKLAND, Ark. (KAIT) - In a special election Tuesday, Brookland voters approved to extend a current sales tax that would have expired in September.

It’s a tax that Brookland Mayor Kenneth Jones says will help improve the quality of life in the city.

Back in March, the Brookland City Council passed an ordinance adopting changes to the current bond ordinance, including the option for residents to vote on a new park, sewer improvements, and a new city hall. Those items were put to a vote Tuesday.

Mayor Jones said while he was excited to see the votes pass, he was a bit disappointed at the turnout. Unofficially, just 95 out of nearly 1,500 registered voters turned in a ballot Tuesday.

According to unofficial voting results from Craighead County Election Coordinator Jennifer Clack, Ordinance No. 2021-03, keeping the current two percent sales tax, passed 74 to 21 against.

Voters also voted 73 to 21 for Refunding Bonds., while Municipal Building Improvement Bonds also passed with 72 to 23 votes.

The Parks Improvement Bonds and Sewer Improvement Bonds passed with 74 votes, 21 against.

“I think it’s a really big opportunity for our community and of course the apartment complex too,” Samantha Sparks, Property Manager at Whitten Creek Apartments said.

Sparks was one of the 95 who cast a vote in the special election. She said this election was important, even reminding others in the community on Whitten Creek’s Facebook page about the importance of voting.

“I don’t know if they really realized the impact that it’s going to have on our community,” Sparks said. “I think that it was something that a lot of people didn’t take interest in. I think a lot of people are going to enjoy the benefits of it.”

Sparks said she will be one of the people positively impacted by the proposed additions, including a massive park with walking trails and ball fields directly west of the complex.

“We have a lot of kids that live here,” Sparks said. “We have a lot of families, and we also have a lot of just single people that they just want something else to do.”

Some of the other votes that passed include a bond improving existing parks and sewage systems, such as on Eason Street that has been around since the 1970′s.

Mayor Jones said the city is working on the designs of the additions to the city, adding that people could start seeing work done in the next few months.

“You’re looking at probably September, October before we start being able to move forward with actual work on the parks or on the sewer,” Jones said. “In the meantime, we can be planning.”

Mayor Jones said the city will also discuss merging city hall and the police department into one building. He hopes all of these changes will attract more people to the area.

All of these projects are expected to come with a multi-million dollar price tag. Jones said they are already working on getting grant money to help with the additions. Once everything is paid off, the bond tax will end.

“It was exciting for our city to know that the people come out and voted and supported, taking Brookland another step forward toward its future,” Jones said.

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