By Joel Hall
Last Monday, Jonesboro Mayor Luther Maddox announced that the city would begin holding its regular business meetings one hour earlier. On Tuesday, however, a motion to legally change the city's meeting times died for lack of a second.
The Jonesboro City Council failed to pass an amendment to the city code, which would alter the city's regular meeting times. Instead, work-session meetings will continue to take place at 6 p.m., on the first Monday of the month, and regular business meetings will take place at 7 p.m.
Councilman Roger Grider made a motion to roll back the city's regular meeting times, but failed to receive support from the other members of the council. Councilman Bobby Wiggins said that the council should accommodate the schedules of working individuals.
"We should keep it the same as it is," Wiggins said. "If you have somebody who has a real job, they might not be able to get here at 6 p.m.," he said.
In another action, the city council gave its consensus to advertise a proposed 2-mill increase in city taxes. Residents of Jonesboro have enjoyed a millage rate of zero for several years, but Maddox said the city can't afford to continue in the same direction.
"One mill of taxes would net us about $86,000," Maddox said. "In order to balance the budget, we are going to have [to have] a little over two mils of money. We, so far, have been taking a little bit out of our surplus funds to balance the budget at the end of year, but we can't keep doing that, because if you keep dipping water out of the bucket, sooner or later, the bucket is going to be empty."
Members of the council expressed divided opinions on the idea of raising city taxes.
"[Having] no taxes isn't bringing in business," to the City of Jonesboro, said Councilman Wallace Norrington. "We have to operate as a business, or we can't survive."
"If we keep putting taxes on businesses, then the few businesses we have will be gone," said Councilman Clarence Mann.
Maddox said the city would also look into lowering its $60,000 homestead exemption, which he deemed "a big mistake" of previous leadership.