Mayor Criticizes Petition To Reduce Tontitown’s City Government

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As a former mayor circulates a petition in Tontitown to curb what he calls an over-expansion of local government, the town’s current mayor says it’s all wrong.

The Tontitown City Council passed an ordinance Oct. 1 changing the framework of the city’s administrative structure, adding new positions and salaries to match what city officials said were necessary jobs of city employees. Former mayor Joe Edgmon said the town cannot afford the additions, and he created a petition to scrap the new ordinance.

Mayor Jack Beckford said the ordinance just clarifies duties within the city, and the alleged new salaries are actually just regular pay raises that the city government already has money for. He said the move is not controversial.

“All those things need to be paid for, and now I have a police department staff, the water department staff. But all those expenses were in a different line of budget,” Beckford said. “I’ve moved them all where they belong.”

Edgmon said the city government is already bloated, and a 2,500-population town should not have to spend $794,000 on city employees the way he said Tontitown does. The ordinance recently passed by the city included about $70,000 in raises, he said.

“There is no reason that we should have to spend 794 where we are budgeting for salaries in a town the size of a large subdivision,” Edgmon said.

Edgmon’s petition seeks to repeal the ordinance, reducing the size and cost of the local government. He started circulating the petition last week and said he has collected about 60 signatures. The petition needs about 125 signatures to appear on the May ballot in Tontitown.

The petition needs to be turned in to the city 90 days before the May elections, to ensure the signatures are certified by the city and county clerks, as well as the Arkansas Secretary of State.