Our "City" is Up and Running
This will be my first "Mayor's Message". I am excited about the opportunity to do this as communication is key to a smooth functioning government.
For starters, as planned, we have received our upgrade from an Incorporated Town to City of the 2nd Class. In practical terms this upgrade has only one impact on us. That is that future council member elections will be by ward as opposed to at large. We will be working to set up the wards over the next couple of months and will hold some open meetings to get public input prior to finalizing the ward boundaries. Other than that we believe there is a perception benefit with being a city vs. town since cities would normally have more in terms of infrastructure, commercial services and recreational amenities.
Secondly, in April, we will be receiving our first monthly allocation of funds from the State Treasury in the form of turnback revenue for roads and funds for our general revenue accounts. This was delayed because distribution of funds is based on population and the State Treasury wasn't able to get a population estimate for Holiday Island from the U.S. Census Bureau. So we had legislation introduced to allow using data from the Arkansas Geographical Information Service which was passed and signed by Governor Hutchinson on March 24th. We owe a big thank you to Senator Bob Ballinger, the Arkansas Municipal League, and our own Representative Harlan Breaux for getting this done on a very short timeline.
At our March City Council meeting, an ordinance was passed allowing for the position of City Attorney to be appointed as opposed to elected. Most small cities use that option. At the April meeting we expect to confirm our selection. Now that we will have a known revenue stream established and will have a city attorney on board, we can begin to prepare the interlocal agreements between the city and HISID for fire protection and road maintenance.
You may recall that the two over arching objectives for incorporating were to bring revenue into Holiday Island that we felt we were owed but did not have access to and code enforcement. Code enforcement is further down the road. But we are now receiving turnback funds and will soon be receiving our share of the County sales tax. It may not be enough to totally fund a city of our size. But every dollar we bring in is a dollar we didn't have before. In addition to the turnback funds, we are well on our way to receiving a $300,000 grant for road resurfacing. So things are working as planned.
As you can see from the website, we have a functioning city government complete with phones, internet, a website and email. All of this to date has been funded by private donations and I want to extend a big thank you to all those who put time, effort and money into getting us off to a great start. We have leased office space from the District at 110 Woodsdale Drive. I expect to start having regular office hours probably in June. Until then you can contact me any time by phone or email.