Mayor: Petition “Would Shut Down” Tontitown

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A Tontitown petition seeks to halt the expansion of local government, but the mayor says it would “shut down the town.”

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.

Edgmon’s petition calls for a repeal of the ordinance he said adds too many unnecessary positions to the city’s payroll. The petition needs about 125 signatures to appear on the May ballot in Tontitown. Edgmon said advocates have collected about 60 signatures.

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.

Mayor Jack Beckford criticized the petition, saying its supporters may not realize the amount of manpower it takes to run a modern-day city.

“I don’t believe it would pass. If it did, it would shut down the town,” Beckford told 5NEWS. “We’re actually short-staffed.”

Edgmon criticized the number of part-time city jobs and said a 2,500-population town should not pay its administrators the $770,000 that Tontitown pays its officials.

“It’s just overkill of government, over-paying for part-time positions,” Edgmon said. “They’re thinking we’re bigger than we are.”

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