Arkansas Attorney General Releases Opinion on ‘Crossroads Business Park’ Funding Issues
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel released his opinion on the issues raised by Mayor Wayne Smith and his supporters regarding City Manager Harold Boldt and the Water Park and Convention Center funding... take a look.
In a move that some say was politically motivated, Texarkana, Arkansas Mayor N. Wayne Smith and his supporters did not receive the ruling from the Arkansas Attorney General’s office they were expecting. The AG’s ruling was not decisive on questions surrounding the legality of the funding of the Arkansas Convention Center and Water Park in the Crossroads Development Project.
The opinion from Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel was released late yesterday afternoon. Arkansas Mayor N. Wayne Smith wrote a letter back in October asking for the opinion from the AG’s office about funds used by the Texarkana Arkansas Advertising and Promotion Commission.
City Manager Harold Boldt has been receiving much of the criticism and blame for the spending from the Mayor's office. Boldt is not a member of the A&P Commission, which agreed to the funding of the Arkansas convention center and water park. However, Mayor Smith is a member of the commission and cast his vote in favor of the spending in question.
The issue at hand is whether the city acted within the law regarding the use of Advertising and Promotion funds. The funds are provided by a municipal tax more commonly referred to as the “hamburger tax.” The A&P Commission voted to enter into an agreement with a private company and build the convention center and water park.
Carlton Jones, the Miller County Prosecuting Attorney, says more information was needed for the AG’s office to form a more definitive opinion about the funding of both the convention center and water park.
Smith says even though he asked for the opinion, that these were not his questions. Smith has said they were questions raised by citizens and he was only asking for an independent opinion. The letter sent by Smith was cosigned by Carlton Jones, Arkansas Representative Prissy Hickerson, R-Texarkana and Arkansas Senator Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana.
Representative Hickerson says she is happy with the opinion and believes the issue is now closed. Hickerson admitted the opinion was “a bit inconclusive.”
Texarkana, Arkansas City Manager Harold Boldt does not think there was anything wrong with his actions or those of the A&P Commission. Boldt squarely blamed Mayor Smith for the questions surrounding the issue and for involving the state in a local issue. Boldt says he believes asking for the opinion was more about politics than A&P money. Boldt says, "I think this has been pure down-and-dirty politics, and I haven’t done anything illegal.”
Mayor Smith denies his motivation had anything to do with politics. However, Smith has been a sitting member of the A&P Commission that voted on the project. In fact, Smith made it very clear that Boldt does not have a vote on the commission’s decisions and has no authority with the commission at all.
Smith refused to comment directly on the AG’s opinion instead preferring to discuss the opinion with the City Attorney George Matteson, who is still reviewing the document.
Take a look at the opinion yourself...