A project to overlay McDaniel Road and Oak Drive is almost completed, and the funding that paid for it came largely from a tax set to expire in 2023 unless voters re-authorize it in November.

“Every year on the State Aid Road Committee [of the Arkansas Municipal League],” said Paragould Mayor Mike Gaskill, “we get about $20 million for projects to approve.”

And the city of Paragould received approval for a grant of $250,000 in a 90-10 match. The state share was therefore $225,000 and that of the city, $25,000 plus the entirety of any cost more that $250,000.

As the estimated cost of the project came to $263,451.75, the city’s total share came to $38,451.75. District 10 Superintendent Brad Smithee of the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) said that the final figure for the project has not yet been finalized, since final tasks like applying stripes to the roadway are not done. “But that initial estimate is not going to be far off,” he said Thursday.

ARDOT actually let the contracts for the work, while the city helped pay for it

The project involved overlaying 22-foot wide stretches of both McDaniel Road from Highway 49 to South Rockingchair Road (7,170 feet long) and Oak Drive between McDaniel and Finch Roads (1,349 feet long).

Gaskill said this week that the city of Paragould had actually sought the State Aid funds for the project in late 2018, but had missed the application deadline. “So we applied the next year,” he said, “and got it.” He said the project had been largely completed as of the week ending Sept. 4.

As previously reported, the city typically spends between $900,000 and $1 million annually on road resurfacing. The funds received from the State Aid Street Committee comes from the 1/2-cent sales tax for roads.

That tax was enacted by referendum in 2013. In the same way, it comes up for reauthorization by the voters on the general election ballot. If passed, the city sales tax will remain at 8.625 percent; it will not increase. “This is not a new tax,” Gaskill had told the City Council’s Finance Committee earlier this year in making the case for a resolution endorsing passage of the referendum.

Both the Paragould City Council and the Greene County Quorum Court have unanimously endorsed passage of the referendum. If it is defeated, the tax will drop to 8.125 percent when the tax expires June 30, 2023.

On the other hand, according to Greene County Treasurer Debbie Cross, Greene County as a whole – that is, including every city in the county as well as county government itself – should expect to see a total drop in revenue of about $1.274 million. Gaskill had previously said the estimated loss of revenue to the city’s Street Fund comes to about $38,000 a month, or about $456,000 annually. Cross added that the loss of revenue would amount to about 17 percent of the county Road Department’s revenue.

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