Sunday, August 9, 2009
Is Johnson the New Tontitown?
I had decided not to mention the FUBAR situation prevailing at Tontitown City Hall and the TIFR antics of Tontitown Mayor Joe Edgmon, but that could serve as the Rosetta Stone for understanding the erratic behavior of Johnson Mayor Lonnie Barron. These two Springdale suburbs and their mayors seem to have too much in common to ignore.
Mayor Barron has a long string of incompetencies. Just in the last couple of years, there was the road to nowhere. Johnson passed a TIF District in 2004 to build a road and the road was dedicated to the city in October 2005. Then Johnson repealed the TIF, and the road remained unpaved for 50 yards between Main Drive and 48th Street behind James at the Mill. When asked by a reporter from the Springdale News in 2007, Mayor Barron shrugged and said, "I don't have any idea what we're going to do."
Johnson was equally clueless two weeks ago when it was reported that the United States Postal Service was recommending closing the Johnson Post Office, which is in a city-owned building and rented by the post office for $400 a month. "They'll have to explain what's going to happen before I decide if I'm for or against it," he said. Yeah, that would be a tough one, Lonnie.
Then there was that damning report from the state Legislative Audit in 2008. Unauthorized spending of $4,235 from the Drug Fund for weight lifting equipment was the least of the exceptions. State auditors found that the General Fund disbursement journal showed less than proof of cash by $245,000 or 19%, and the Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Fund was off by a whopping 62%. Mayor Barron was specifically cited for failure to reveal and submit several funds with the annual operating budget as required by law, hiding more than $400,000 from the city council in a single year.
Mayor Barron is on a tear this month, condemning private property by eminent domain for extending water and sewer service that the city doesn't have and cannot afford to construct such facilities, even with all of the speed trap revenue. He also tried to demand that the Sonic Drive-In, situated within the Fayetteville city limits, pay sales tax to Johnson on slush and chili dog sales at eight of the 24 stalls. He appeared to think that the streamlined sales tax law designed to collect sales taxes on internet sales to Arkansas could be applied to the eight Sonic stalls that were in the Johnson city limits. Good grief! Tom Atchley, excise tax administrator for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, set him straight on that scheme, explaining that the business was located in Fayetteville and the tater tots were served on the business property.
Thanks for the laughs, Lonnie. You are such a joker. And such a joke.