Seligman residents reject tax hike
City must find other ways to bolster SPD funding
City of Seligman residents voted down a 1-cent tax hike on Tuesday, which would have bolstered the city's police department that was $39,000 over budget in 2013.
According to unofficial results on Tuesday, 60 percent voted against the tax (42 votes), and 40 percent voted in favor (28 votes).
In declining the 1-cent tax hike, the sales tax in the city will remain at 2.25 cents, which is 2 cents below the limit at 4.25.
Brain Nichols, city clerk of Seligman, said he is disappointed with the results.
"The tax would have provided funding we needed for the police department," he said. "Without the funding, we may have to let an officer go due to budget constraints."
Nichols said overspending on the department by previous administrations is also contributing to the losses.
"We will be crunching numbers to see what we can do," he said.
According to Nichols, the city employs two full-time police officers, and two reserve officers who are strictly volunteers. This month, 13 arrests were made this month; several of them were for drugs.
"Our officers are working full time, and we need them to keep drugs out of this city," he said.
Nichols said what happens next will be decided by the Mayor and the city council.
According to Alderman Ron Corn, one reason for the department being so far behind is because of an issue outside of the city's control.
"Benton County in Arkansas just went wet, so we lost a lot of money there because people aren't coming here to buy liquor as much," he said.
The Seligman Police Department is funded through the city's general fund, receiving 45 percent of the 1-cent general sales tax and 68 percent of the fines and forfeits accrued through the courts.
The city's sales tax, at 2.25 cents, is split up into four categories. There is a 1-cent general sales tax, a 1/2-cent streets sales tax, a 1/2-cent capital improvements sales tax and a 1/4-cent parks sales tax.