MLK road renaming, 2020 budget on agenda for special council meeting

JONESBORO, Ark. – The effort to rename a road in Jonesboro to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will begin one again at tonight’s specially scheduled Jonesboro City Council meeting.

A limited ordinance was up for its third reading and vote at the Nov. 19 city council meeting. Under that ordinance, only portions of Commerce Drive would have taken the MLK name while many existing portions would remain unchanged. However, some including Councilman David McClain felt it didn’t go far enough. McClain proposed an amendment to the ordinance making it rename ALL of Commerce Drive. This required the ordinance to go back to its first reading, which will be at tonight’s specially called council meeting.

While this is scheduled to be the first of three readings for the ordinance, City Attorney Carol Duncan recommended on November 19 that the council could waive the second and third reading under an emergency clause and hold the vote tonight. Although only a simple majority is required to pass the ordinance, a 2/3rd majority – eight votes – are required to suspend rules and waive the final two readings. The mayor can cast a vote in both regards, if he so chooses.

It remained unclear to city hall sources early Monday if an attempt would be made to vote on the measure tonight. There seems to be doubt in getting eight votes from the council to waive second and third readings.

If passed, the ordinance would only affect portions of Commerce Drive within the city limits. The process is apparently much simpler for renaming the pathway outside of city limits. County Judge Marvin Day has previously committed to renaming portions of Commerce Drive that are under county jurisdiction to honor Dr. King. Differences in the law allow for the county judge to make that decision himself, rather than requiring a voting body’s approval.

2020 Budget

The other major piece of business at tonight’s council meeting is the 2020 budget presentation planned by Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin.

Notably, concerns in the budget revolve around a drop in revenue per capita. Since 2016, revenue has decreased 5.8 percent per individual living in Jonesboro. Inflation rates have grown almost identically with population growth in Jonesboro – 1.7 percent per year since 2016.

The mayor will ask the city council to approve a budget of $69 million in expenditures on $65.2 million of expected revenue. This represents $3.8 million of deficit spending. The excess expenses will be deducted from the city’s surplus fund, leaving $30.3 million.

The city has spent more than it has taken in for several years:

  • 2019 -$2,044,966
  • 2018 -$15,985,825
  • 2017 -$5,081,087
  • 2016 -$10,143,811

The bulk of the budget comes from law enforcement. JPD will ask for $18,833,665 in funding for 2020 which includes $1,307,713 in increased spending – or a 7.3 percent increase. That includes 40 new computers for police cars and nine new SUVs.

All sources of revenue are expected to increase for Jonesboro except for one: fines. From 2019 to 2020, the expectation is that less of the area’s residents will be paying fines, going from $1,518,000 to $1,473,500 in projected revenue – a $44,500 decrease.

Two major decreases in funding are planned: The biggest is for Capital Improvements (from $3.6 million in 2019 to $1.3 million in 2020). Highways and Street funding will go from $6.46 million to $6.07 million – about $387,000 less.

Don’t expect much more from mosquito control either. Funding is set to increase a mere $6,000 from $436,000 to $442,000.

No new personnel are planned to be hired except for three firefighters approved through a recent grant. No changes in the current salary structure are planned. There are increases in health insurance costs amounting to 3.3 percent ($120,000) more.

The budget also makes note of a possible consideration for a millage increase in 2020 to create additional revenue.

To see the full budget presentation, click this link: Jonesboro Budget 2020 Presentation

To see the budget itself, which is over 100 pages, click this link: 2020 Jonesboro Budget

The city council will decide on the budget by resolution.

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