By John C. Davis
February 3, 2020
The first meeting of the year for the Southeast Arkansas Political Animals Club was called to order on Monday. The featured speaker was Charlie Searcy, Drew County Treasurer. The topic of discussion was the upcoming special election regarding a reinstatement of a one-cent Drew County sales and use tax for the development and maintenance of county roads.
Originally passed by voters in 1996, the tax had previously been renewed by the public every six years until this past summer. At that time, the latest renewal question failed on the ballot by a mere 14 votes, 187 to 173. At the meeting, the County Treasurer said during his presentation, that he and other county officials “take blame” for the low turnout and overall result of last summer’s special election as the issue was not often publicly discussed.
The one-cent sales tax, according to Searcy, had generated over $14 million for Drew County roads or roughly $2.3 million per year since he took office in 2013. He estimated approximately 40% of the revenue generated from the tax comes from individuals outside of Drew County from their in-county consumer purchases. The Treasurer also pointed out that Drew County had 362 miles of road with 135 unpaved and 227 paved.
The special election is scheduled for February 11 with early voting beginning on February 4th. This election will feature new voting equipment and be the first since the Drew County Election Commission voted to consolidate polling locations–closing some rural voting sites and permitting voters to attend any of the remaining “voting centers” regardless of the precinct to which they have been previously assigned. More on this later…..