TEXARKANA, Ark. — During its meeting Monday, the city Board of Directors voted against an ordinance that would have dissolved the local Advertising and Promotion Commission and repealed its associated hotel and restaurant taxes.
Ward 3 Director Steven Hollibush, who sponsored the ordinance, moved to table it. But after discussion among directors, Mayor Allen Brown and City Attorney George Matteson, about how to remove the measure from consideration to make way for a possible different version, Hollibush's motion to table failed for lack of a second. The Board then fast-tracked the ordinance's third reading and voted it down, with only Hollibush voting for adoption.
The Board must hear an ordinance read three times in public before a vote is allowed. The A&P ordinance was read the first time during the Board's meeting on Nov. 2, triggering an automatic second reading Monday. After that reading, Hollibush moved to table.
Asked why by Ward 1 Director Linda Teeters, Hollibush said he thought the idea, raised Nov. 2 by Ward 2 Director Laney Harris, to keep the 3% hotel tax but repeal the 2% hotel tax was a good one and he wanted "to explore every option."
Discussion then turned to holding a workshop meeting, during which the issue would be talked over but no action would be taken, to consider the possibility of bringing a different version of the ordinance before the Board. Harris raised the question of whether the current ordinance could be amended after the workshop but before its third reading, which without further action would have taken place at the Board's next meeting, scheduled for Dec 7.
Matteson said doing so was possible but his preference would be to dispense with the current ordinance and begin the process over with a different version. Tabling the current measure indefinitely would mean it could be taken off the table at any point in the future, read a third time and voted on, he said.
The Board then discussed its options, including proceeding to a final vote during the meeting.
"What can I do? It looks like I'm going to have to wait 180 days to bring this up again," Hollibush said. Any ordinance that has come before the Board may not be re-introduced for 180 days.
His motion to table the ordinance then did not receive a second, and unanimous votes followed to hear a third reading and vote on adoption. The final vote was six to one, with Hollibush for and all other directors and Brown against passing the measure.
Because Teeters and Ward 6 Director Terri Peavy did not win re-election Nov. 3, a new Board that takes office Jan. 1 will consider the ordinance if it is re-introduced after the 180-day waiting period.
The Board also voted unanimously to approve purchase of more than 1,300 acres of land by the city Public Facilities Board to be used for economic development.
Last week, the PFB voted to issue $5 million in bonds to buy the land. The plan is to offer it as incentive for heavy industry such as an auto manufacturing plant to locate in the city, bringing high-paying new jobs. The PFB will lease the land to the city and Miller County at a cost sufficient to cover paying down the bonds.
Without discussion, the Board voted to pass a resolution approving the bond issue and another adopting the lease agreement. It also enacted an emergency clause to make the measures effective immediately so the land deal can be closed by the end of the year.
Another unanimous vote approved the Parks Department's purchase of a laser infield grader, equipment used to maintain baseball fields, for more than $35,000.
Department Superintendent Adam Dalby said the machine would allow crews to precisely grade fields to optimize drainage while reducing the manpower needed to do so.