Lepanto holding special election Tuesday to move forward with replacing water lines

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The city of Lepanto is holding a special election on Tuesday, June 24, because of the wording of a ballot measure voted on in December.

Voters approved a half cent sales tax increase in an election on Dec. 10, 2013, to fund the replacement of the city's galvanized water lines, which date back to the 1920s and 1930s. However, City Attorney Noyl Houston told the city council in April the ordinance adopted as a result of that election was inadequate because it did not contain language concerning the issuing bonds.

"Bond lawyers in Little Rock stated the ballot title was not properly written even though it was written by the City Attorney and approved by the Department of Finance and Administration," Mayor Steve Jernigan wrote in a letter sent out to voters this week. "We are now required to hold a new election with slightly different wording to move forward with this project."

This means Lepanto voters will need to go back to polls on Tuesday before work on replacing the city's water lines can be started.

The new ordinance Houston presented at the April council meeting said the cost of the water line replacement would be financed by the issuance of capital improvement bonds and that the bonds would be retired with collections of the half cent sales tax voters approved. Houston clarified no new tax was being issued and said the language concerning the issuance of bonds should have been in the ballot measure voted on in December.

"Our water problems--brown water, leaky pipes, patched streets--are not going away, and we will continue to dig up streets until new lines are installed," Mayor Jernigan said. "Once the new water lines are installed, Lepanto will be eligible for grants to repave our streets."

The election will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the American Legion Hut in Lepanto on Tuesday, June 24.

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