November 04, 2015 Edition

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College City, Walnut Ridge
consolidation proposed

The two municipalities of College City and Walnut Ridge have discussed and are looking to bring a proposed consolidation to the vote of the people.

College City Mayor Paul Rhoads and Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp have had several meetings regarding the topic of consolidation.

"I have talked with our city attorney and with the Municipal League. In fact, the afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 24, Mayor Rhoads passed a sample/test petition in College City and in a matter of an hour or two had already received many more signatures than required by law to call for an election had the petitions been turned in," Snapp said.

Rhoads said that the two cities are heavily intertwined already. He said College City is not in a position to offer many services due to its small budget.

"We depend on Walnut Ridge for fire protection, sewage and mosquito control," Rhoads said. "Most of the children in College City go to school in Walnut Ridge and the school bus makes pickups here."

The consolidation proposal was discussed during the last College City City Council meeting and will be discussed at the Nov. 16 Walnut Ridge City Council meeting.

Petitions to
be circulated

While no final plans have been made, discussions between the two mayors have led to the following timetable for the possible consolidation.

Beginning in late January or February of 2016, petitions will be circulated in both Walnut Ridge and College City. Registered voters in both towns will sign if they are in favor of consolidating the two cities, which would then operate as Walnut Ridge. March of 2016 is the projected election date should the petitions reach the required number of signatures in time.

To put the consolidation on a ballot, the equivalent of 15 percent of the voters in each city's last mayoral election will have to sign the petitions. During the November 2014 Walnut Ridge election for mayor, 1465 votes were cast. That means the petition would require 220 signatures from registered voters in Walnut Ridge. There were just over 50 votes cast in the College City mayor's race.

The petition will be written in a manner that if the consolidation efforts pass in both towns, the city of Walnut Ridge would redraw their current ward lines to balance out the representation between the consolidated cities, thus allowing the registered voters of College City to run for the office of alderman in the November 2016 election.

Additional adjustments to budget, which Snapp said appears to be beneficial to both municipalities, are still under review.

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