At the Board’s regular monthly meeting on March 19, 2018, members heard in-depth explanations of the uses of the funds over the past 12 years for the Waste Water Treatment Plant, as well as the basis for the City of Siloam Springs placing a renewal of the sales and use tax on the ballot for May 22, 2018. Chamber President Wayne Mays stressed that “This is not a new tax; we have been paying it in our purchases for the past 12 years and we have had affordable and reliable waste water treatment during those years. The Chamber supports business and is in favor of smaller government and fewer taxes when possible, but this is an infrastructure need that our businesses and citizens need to address through renewal of a tax that benefits everyone.”
The Water Treatment Plant must receive an estimated $31 million upgrade. Aging equipment between 25 and 60 years old is obsolete, causing costly repairs and maintenance. The most recent upgrade to the plant was in 1992, and not all components were updated. Planned upgrades include a new water line from the Illinois River to the plant. Currently there is no backup should the existing 62 year old line fail. Newer technology will increase the efficiency in treating water; switching from chlorine gas treatment to sodium hypochlorite is safer for the community.
The existing 5/8th cent tax is collected on retail sales, restaurant sales, and services. Non-residents who come to Siloam Springs to shop pay a share of the existing tax. The City paid off the bonds for the previous $20 million debt for the Waste Water Treatment Plant upgrade in 12 years, which was originally a 20-year bond issue.
Voters can choose how to pay for the plant upgrade: by voting to extend the existing 5/8th cent tax or – without an extension of the tax – the other option is to increase water rates for residents and businesses approximately 50%.
Mays also said, “Just as we asked voters to approve the renewal of the 3/8th cent tax in 2016 – to be used for infrastructure and quality of life – our board members see this as a necessary renewal of a tax that will benefit all citizens. We have seen the City keep its’ promises by investing the renewed 3/8th cent tax funds in street upgrades, entrances to the City, and building new parks. We can trust our City Board and Staff to apply this renewed tax to our much-needed waste water facilities.”
The Chamber Board unanimously endorsed the renewal, and urges voters to vote FOR the 5/8th cent sales tax renewal on May 22.
For more information contact Wayne Mays, 479-524-6466, or Patrick Kerrwood, 479-215-3101.