by Clay Herrmann
The Public Health, Welfare & Safety Committee of the Garland County Quorum Court met on February 29, 2016. The major issue under consideration was County Judge Rick Davis’ proposal for another “temporary” 5/8% sales tax, this time to raise approximately fifty million dollars. Approximately thirty million would be for cost-sharing with the Highway Department to continue the MLK bypass to the HWY 5/HWY 7 junction north of Hot Springs.
The remainder twenty million dollars is designated for a wide range of proposed projects around Garland County aimed at appealing to otherwise disinterested voters who presumably will want to know what is in it for them in order to vote for the tax, and promising a portion of the tax largesse to the cities of Hot Springs, Fountain Lake, Lonsdale, and Mt. Pine in anticipation of their support.
The majority of the membership of the Public Health, Welfare, & Safety Committee, chaired by Justice Larry Griffin (JP District 11) voted in favor of the tax. Most outspoken in opposition was Justice Mary Bournival (JP District 4) who voted “NO” with the minority.
Consideration of the tax moves next to the Finance Committee on March 7th, and then to the full Quorum Court on March 14th. If approved by a majority of the thirteen Garland County Justices of the Peace, a countywide Special Election seeking voter approval of bond issues and the “sales and use tax” is projected to take place on June 28, 2016.