Hoxie mayor says Walnut Ridge is attempting a “hostile takeover”

HOXIE, Ark. – The cities of Hoxie and Walnut Ridge could not be closer together in geography but the two mayors seem to be worlds apart on at least one issue.

Consolidation – or as Hoxie Mayor Lanny Tinker called it in a 1200+ word post on Facebook, “forced annexation.”

The post comes following a series of stories by local television station KAIT-TV, which indicated Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp was attempting to consolidate with Hoxie, just as Walnut Ridge did on Jan. 1 with College City.

Although the Walnut Ridge City Council meeting Monday night covered almost two hours of varied subjects, the State of the City address included one mention of a potential consolidation in the future. Hoxie was not mentioned by name, but seemed to be indicated in the statement.

Tinker, seeming to be upset about the matter, issued his response via Facebook on Friday. Below are the entire contents of the post.


Related to an attempted forced annexation by Walnut Ridge

As Mayor of Hoxie, I was very disappointed when Walnut Ridge Mayor, Charles Snapp made statements about the consolidation of Hoxie with Walnut Ridge without having communications with the Hoxie City Council, mayor or our citizens. This feels more like a hostile takeover by WR rather than a mutual effort to consolidate. As information was released from various news media outlets, I realized this has become a public relations campaign by the City of Walnut Ridge Administrators to annex our city for the benefit of WR.

Newspaper reports stated that Mayor Snapp is trying to find ways to keep from raising property taxes on Walnut Ridge Citizens needs 300,000.00 to build water
and sewer for airport and needs more land which would benefit WR.

After requesting the financial information from the City of Hoxie under the Freedom of Information Act, WR understands the City of Hoxie is financially sound we have a total of $1,097,069.35 dollars of funds available for use ( as of 01-18-2017). Some of these accounts have limitations as to now they can be spent on however:

The City of Walnut Ridge would have a windfall benefit of obtaining this One Million Dollars if the City of Hoxie is annexed. Distribution of those funds would be at the digression of the Walnut Ridge City Council if annexation is approved.

Speaking on behalf of our citizens, the Hoxie City Council and myself, we will not be bullied, belittled, talked down to or deceived by anyone who considers themselves to be our Big Brother from outside our city limits. For those employees of WR who are making statements which disparage Hoxie City Employees by stating to them “We are coming to take your jobs” I am asking you politely at this time to stop!

I have been relatively selective in my public comments that might be considered divisive even when I didn’t agree with some outsider comments. It was not my preference to have to defend the independence of our community nor did I want to make any statements to detract or reduce our collaborative cooperation with the Walnut Ridge administration or citizens. I feel like, I have been backed into a corner and now I must push back against the aggression of this situation. So with some reluctance but I want to make a statement.

Let me be clear! At this time, it is my opinion there is absolutely no reason that will benefit the citizens of Hoxie to give away our God given independent rights to another municipality.

I am 100% opposed to being annexed by the City of Walnut Ridge.

The statements that an annexation of the City of Hoxie will have no effect on the consolidation of schools is just misleading. I along with the Hoxie Public School administration are convinced that if the City of Hoxie is annexed then it will be a short period of time before efforts to consolidate the school systems will occur.

Understanding the current Arkansas Law regulating annexations or consolidations should be important consideration for the citizens of Hoxie. The law heavily favors the larger city in making all the decisions if both cities vote in favor of annexation. Mayor Snapp and the Walnut Ridge City Council will not be required to make any conditions before or after the annexation vote. The City Council of Walnut Ridge shall by ordinance form the territory of the smaller municipality to be in the best interest of the combine cities, by law the new wards shall have equal population and assessed valuation of property. The current Hoxie wards will be redrawn and could possibly be combining with some of the current population of existing Walnut Ridge wards.

The underlying truth is Citizens of Hoxie will have to place all their confidence in the blind trust that Mayor Snapp and the Walnut Ridge City Council will divide wards in a way that gives adequate legal representation of Hoxie on the new Walnut Ridge City Council. Even if that occurs then Hoxie’s representation will be at best 33% of the new Walnut Ridge Council. There are some provisions that citizens of Hoxie could appeal but then a circuit court would rule and make the final decision.

I can not totally verify my next statement; citizens should confirm the facts with the former College City Council and Joy Ring. But it illustrates the total control of a larger city who has annexed a smaller municipality.

College City voted to provide Joy Ring with retirement! Walnut Ridge said this was illegal and the Walnut Ridge City Council will rule if Joy Ring receives her retirement. It is the law but one hopes the right conclusion will be determined. Also was College City promised they would have representation on the WR city council, as I understand the ward was merged with some of the boundaries of WR so will they ever have a councilman representing the interest of the former College City?

The Walnut Ridge annexation with College City netted walnut Ridge $148,216.08
from College City, the annexation of Hoxie will net walnut Ridge around one million
dollars according to our calculations.

As mayor of Hoxie, I believe there will be a collective effort to convince Hoxie citizens
industry and business will flock to our area, if we will allow ourselves to be annexed.
I believe those expectations are only conjecture and inflated promises. I don’t believe
in unrealistic jobs creation, prosperity and cheaper services if we will only summit to
annexation.

By Arkansas Law there is an easy path for outsiders to place this issue on an agenda
to be voted on, proponents will make some parts of this sound very good, outside
influences will encourage you to have total blind trust in giving them your voting rights.

I believe in the following: The City of Hoxie is in the position of expanding our sales
tax base with the development of property on the south side of town at the 63 bypass.
There are no assurances but it is the first time in 60 years we have the potential to
really expand our population and acquire new businesses. The city has $350,000.00
to initiate this project. The opportunity of the annexation cycle will revolve again in the
next few years as it has in past years. Don’t give up our independence until we can
determine if a new face of Hoxie can be developed, new businesses can be obtained
and we become a more prosperous city.

Outsiders will tell you that’s not practical but those same forces have been at a
strategy to prevent our success in the past.

If ask by your neighbor to sign a ballet to put the consolidation issue on the ballot
politely say ”no.” Then ask them if we can call the new city Hoxie and then Walnut
Ridge residents will not support this effort.

Anyone who lives in Hoxie can simply move to Walnut Ridge to support the W R
efforts. As a lifelong residence I don’t want to give up our independence, the City of
Hoxie Parade, Hoxie Public Schools, Dickens in the Park, Dickens Wonderland, the
Hoxie All School Reunion, Santa on the fire truck, or my right to say I live in Hoxie or
Hoxie Arkansas was where I WAS BORN.

If consolidation makes the ballet just say and vote NO!

Hoxie Mayor
Lanny Tinker

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