Decision on shovel ready projects expected Tuesday

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Does your neighborhood have street and sidewalk repairs you’d like the city to take care of right away?

Tuesday night, the Little Rock Board of Directors decided to vote February 7 on a plan to pump nearly $600,000 in sales tax revenue into public works projects in 2012. In addition to the shovel ready projects, sidewalks rank high on the list of needed improvements.

On 36th Street near Shackleford, people who go to the United Cerebral Palsy campus, and use wheelchairs, have to go into the street where the sidewalk ends. Your tax money could help build a new sidewalk there this year.

But Tuesday night, Little Rock city directors talked about whether it’s fair to decide what to spend your money on without talking to you about it first.

“I would like us to take this thing slow enough so that the public can keep up with us and so that they can have time to talk to the directors about what we’re doing and everything,” says City Director Joan Adcock.

Tuesday, Vice Mayor Dean Kumpuris proposed taking ten-percent off the top of the public works budget to split between four wards he feels are in need of extra funding: Wards 1, 2, 6 and 7.

“It recognizes that the older areas of the city need more money, but that every ward could spend the whole 65-million dollars in that ward individually, and it gives enough money in each ward so they can prioritize it,” says Kumpuris.

Under his plan, starting in 2013, the city would go back to each ward every three years to decide how to spend the capital sales tax revenue until it goes away in 2021.

City Director Ken Richardson says conceptually he’s on board with that.

“I think we need to make some effort to move forward with some of these needs that have been pressing for a number of years. A long time. So, while I appreciate the sensitivity with respect to us slowing down the train, I just want to be mindful enough that we have to get the train out of the station,” says Richardson.

The mayor wants to move the plan forward to take advantage of construction season. So if the board doesn’t make a decision next week, he says it should happen by March.

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