The Crossett City Council voted unanimously Monday to begin the process of hiring a bond attorney to take a sales tax vote for sewer upgrades to the residents.
The vote came after a presentation from the Crossett Sewer Committee’s Claude Spainhour, who told the council that the Arkansas Natural Resource Commission has approved the city for an up-to $7 million loan to upgrade its sewers.
Spainhour told the council the payments would from between $40,243 and $50,327 depending if the interest rate was set at a low of 2 percent or a high of 4.5 percent.
Sales tax collection data shows that in 2018 the average monthly collection for a half-cent sales tax was $86,801 per month.
If the sewer upgrades are paid for through a rate increase, it would require increases of between 197 and 221 percent, Spainhour said, taking Crossett from the 17th percentile in sewer costs for residents to the 79th percentile.
Councilman Cary Carter told the other members that municipalities he has heard of going to privatized sewer services are now seeking to take back over their old systems.
Councilwoman Crystal Marshall said Tuesday the city is still waiting to hear back about one of the grants it has applied for in connection with the sewer project, an application for $1.2 million.
If the city receives the grant, it will not have to take out the full $7 million loan, she said.
“Right now we are moving forward as if we are getting no grant for the sake of getting it done.”
Marshall said the council’s decision to seek a sales tax was motivated in part because bond issues could be paid off in advance, whereas funding based on rate increases could not.
“It also felt like the right thing to do it in a bond issue, because it gives the citizens a chance to say, ‘We believe in Crossett, in the future of Crossett,” she said.
Carter made the motion to seek the bond counsel, which Marshall seconded.