Sugar Creek tax proposal rejected

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Lack of funds leaves district in tight financial spot

Voters in the Sugar Creek Special Road District in the Seligman area rejected an attempt to double the district’s property tax levy on Tuesday, leaving the district’s financial outlook very uncertain.

The district had a property tax levy of $0.1542 per $100 of assessed property. Commissioners proposed increasing the levy by an additional $0.1676. Voters rejected the proposal by a 93-71 vote margin, offering only 43 percent support.

According to Connie Lloyd, who has served as a road district commissioner since 1997, the problem stems back to trying to repair the road through Butler Hollow, which washed out in the December 2015 flooding. Lloyd, who was voted out as chairman in 2016, said new chairman, Hugh “Cisco” Maloney, and fellow commissioner Jimmy Treat felt they could repair the road for less without signing a contract with FEMA, then receive reimbursement to the road district’s advantage. The district made arrangements with local contractors and had the work done.

Lloyd said the last time he worked with FEMA, the government agency took 15 months to reimburse the district. Local contractors demanded payment after the work was finished, prompting the road district to borrow funds from Peoples Community Bank in Seligman to pay for the rock and other bills. The district mortgaged its grader, backhoe, dump truck and brush cutter to the bank for $100,000 when the bank would not provide the loan without collateral.

Lloyd is concerned that without having a signed contract with FEMA like the ones he signed on three previous occasions, the last time in 2012, that FEMA may not reimburse the district as hoped, especially with President Donald Trump talking about reducing funding for FEMA. The proposed tax levy increase would have raised approximately $40,000 a year.

“I was afraid it wouldn’t pass,” Lloyd. “People are fed up with the roads and taxes. I hope you can find some money to send our way.”

Maloney could not be reached for comment.

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