April 15, 2014

Peculiar weighing recount on fuel tax election

Seven votes would have made the difference for the city to reach the two-thirds majority required. Aldermen will meet April 21 and possibly discuss the issue.

On the fourth attempt, Peculiar came tantalizingly close last week to reaching the two-thirds majority required to pass a 1-cent-per-gallon fuel tax.

Needed: 66.67 percent.

Outcome: 66.17 percent.

However, a recount is not assured.

After the polls closed on April 8, City Administrator Brad Ratliff said: “I think I might ask the county clerk, since it was that close, if they’ll do a recount.”

Later in the week, Ratliff said the city would possibly bring the issue up when the Board of Aldermen next meets April 21 to gauge direction from elected officials.

Of the 745 voters who went to the polls last week, 493 approved the tax.

Seven switched votes could have reversed the outcome.

“With it being that close ... a lot of people would like to see it happen,” Ratliff said.

Voter turnout was also significantly high, coming in at almost 24 percent.

The last time the issue was on the ballot in 2012, 60 percent of voters supported the tax — up from 57 percent in 2010, and nearly 44 percent in 2009.

Ratliff said citizens petitioned the city to put the measure on the ballot again this year. The estimated $100,000 yearly proceeds would have been used to upgrade roads.

“In the last two times the only reason we’ve brought it out was because of the citizens who came and petitioned it,” he said.

Ratliff said Peculiar, a town of about 4,800 residents, has only about $150,000 annually to spend on streets.

“That’s a very minimal (amount) to not just maintain, but to make continual improvements,” said Ratliff. “We need a revenue source to pay for roads.”

The city currently has a $50 million street improvement to-do list, and the revenue could have given the city the start it needed.

Ratliff speculated that about 80 percent of the revenue would be generated from motorists passing through Peculiar, primarily at the Flying J Travel Plaza near Interstate 49.

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