Citizens talk to their aldermen about FairPlex proposal

By Martin Couch

There are many factors, both pro and con, that will be on the table on Aug. 10 when a special county-wide election for the proposed FairPlex that will take the place of the old Saline County Fairgrounds.

Many Bryant residents, who mostly work in Little Rock and rarely go to Benton for employment, are voicing their opinions through the city's aldermen.[more]

"I am opposed to the FairPlex issue," Ward 2, Position 2 Bryant Alderman Chris Tipton said. "Everyone that I have discussed it with is against it. The economy is still struggling and the timing for an additional one percent tax is not right."

Concerned citizens in Tipton's Ward have spoken on the issue of a rushed vote, instead of waiting for the regular November elections.

"It would get a greater turnout throughout the county," Tipton said.

Also in Ward 2, Position 1, Alderman Ed Collins believes that the FairPlex issue has brought about numerous questions with many types of answers just before the election.

"I have spoken to numerous voters in my Ward about the FairPlex, as well as numerous citizens within the city of Bryant to include citizens outside the city of Bryant," he said. "The voters that I have spoken with in my Ward say they are against it because of the already high tax rate in Bryant. The voters I have spoken with who live outside the city of Bryant seemed to be split. I have heard numerous reasons why people are voting for and against the project."

Some of the reasons for the FairPlex that Collins has heard include more jobs, more options in Saline County for family fun and economic stimulus. However, other reasons against could be more of a factor at the poles in early August. Those include, according to Collins, no more taxes for residents, it's a Benton project, and people don't want to pay for a "horse barn."

"I cannot make a call if it's going to pass or not," Collins said. "I have seen a lot more sings up against the project than for it."

Ward 3, Position 1 Alderman Adrian Henley has also heard from the citizens in his Ward on the issue.

"The people in Bryant I talk to seem to be against any new tax period," Henley said. "The only people I have talked to for the FairPlex are ones from Benton, as they would be the ones to benefit most from this. I personally am the type of person that believes this is not a project the citizens should pay for. If it is a moneymaker as the supporters say it is, then they should have a private company invest in it and they can reap the benefits or losses.

"Citizens’ tax money is not to be gambled with," he continued. "If this place does not pay for itself, then the citizens will pay for it. I am glad it is going to a vote to see if the people want this or not."

Henley is also concerned about a "special election" being called for a vote, while many in the county realize that it will cause a low turnout of voters in hopes of passing the issue.

"I do not like it being presented as a special vote, because the statistics show that less people show up for these types of elections," he said. "Although I think this issue has gained much publicity, and that hopefully that will not be the problem, I just hope when citizens do vote that the FairPlex supporters will listen. The people that are for this tax, in my opinion, are using the information from the study that was done to justify it. These are not facts, but a study. Things will change. The people that are against it are that way because they do not see this as a taxable project. They would love to see it here, but do not feel that raising taxes are the way to do it."

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