Early voting began Tuesday, Sept. 7, in the special election for residents of Pea Ridge and Garfield. The election is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 14. Polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
In Pea Ridge, voters are being asked to approve a $5.8 million bond issue for street work and a 1-cent sales tax to fund the bond and provide additional revenue for the Streets, Fire, Police and Parks departments.
In Garfield, voters are being asked to continue a 1/2-cent city sales tax to fund the Water Department.
Pea Ridge has 4,018 registered voters, and Garfield has 391, said Dana Caler, Benton County Clerk Office's elections administrator/voter supervisor.
The elections will be the county's fifth and six special elections of the year. Act 610 of 2021 will limit elections starting next year to four times a year: February, May, August and November in non-presidential election years; and March, May, August and November in presidential election years.
City officials in both cities have hosted public meetings to present the proposals and to answer questions.
City Street Department superintendent Nathan See said if the bond is approved, he will advertise for bids in October or November for street projects. The priorities include paving Hazelton Road, upgrading Patton Street, and adding sidewalks to provide safe access to schools and within the city. Other streets in the plan include Greer Street, It'll Do Road, Lee Town Road, McCulloch Street, West Street and North Davis Street. Specifics on each street are on the city's website.
The priority for the Fire Department is staffing to hire full-time paramedics and emergency medical technicians to staff the ambulance. The ambulance was previously staffed with part-time medics who work full-time at other agencies. Air packs are also on the list of needed items as the current ones are small and nearly out of date, according to Fire Department personnel.
Fire Department employee Stephanie Henson said she bills insurance for ambulance runs, but the insurance doesn't pay the full cost of the run. "The nature of the business is that it will always run int he red. It is not a profitable business," Henson said, explaining that different insurance companies pay different percentages and many patients are covered by Medicare.
Developing the six-acre piece of land on North Curtis Avenue into a park is one of the requests from members of the Parks Commission. Plans for there include a dog park, an all-inclusive park, walking trail and a restroom.
Police Chief Lynn Hahn has listed body cameras and computer software as among the needs for his department. He said tasers are also on his list.
At one public meeting, Justice of the Peace Brian Armas said, "We all have signs that say back the blue. Put your money where your mouth, it's a penny."
Garfield residents in March 2020 approved the half-cent sales tax to help fund its water system. The tax is scheduled to end in March 2022. The city will ask voters to make the tax permanent.
The tax has brought in $76,600, according to city officials.
Revenue from the tax would be used solely for the Water Department. The department has one full-time and one part-time employee.
"We've fixed so many leaks, we've decided that's where we want to start," Mayor Gary Blackburn said.
Some pipe has been replaced, but there are old and deteriorating meters and other pieces of equipment that need to be replaced, he said.
The Garfield Water Department serves 269 customers. The average daily use of water in Garfield is 52,000 gallons, Blackburn said.
Early voting locations:
County Clerk’s Office, 215 E. Central, Bentonville
County Clerk’s Office, 2111 W. Walnut St., Rogers
Times and dates:
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Sept. 7-10, Sept. 13
Election Day Voting Locations
NEBCO Community Building, 17823 Marshall St., Garfield
First Baptist Church, Pea Ridge, 1650 Slack St., Pea Ridge
Voting Day Times
7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14