The A&P Commission held its regular meeting Thursday, October 19, 2017 to finalize 2018 monies to be awarded to approximately 36 organizations in Texarkana, Arkansas. The total amount requested equates to $541,700.00.
The meeting commenced at 2:00 p.m. and ended after 8:30 p.m. that evening. Applicants received 5 minutes each to pitch why their respective organizations and events should receive the tax revenues.
The meeting began with an overflow of attendees, but dwindled down to only four people before the commissioners entered executive session to discuss the request of the removal of Charmain Buddy Allen.
Per the request of Commissioner Linda Teeters, the agenda was amended to move the Gathering of Authors complaint to the end of the list.
The Gathering of Authors was seeking over $6,000 in additional funds for their event, which proceeds are donated to Arkansas Childrens in Little Rock and St. Judes.
“We literally have one week and one day,” pleaded Amanda Bowers, Gathering of Authors representative. Tammy Thompson added, “This event is in your hands at this point.”
The Commissioners voted 4 to 2, not to award any additional funds to the Gathering of Authors.
The recent ruling regarding the Arkansas Convention center was also discussed briefly at the meeting. Attorney Josh Potter summarized the order that was signed by Judge Brenda Rhoades, Federal Bankruptcy Court.
In April 2017, Dr. James J. Naples purchased Texarkana Hotels LLC from Hiren Patel for $6.55 million. However, At the time the A&P didn’t continue the $150,000 agreement that was negotiated with the original owner.
“He bought it for $0.60 on the dollar,” said Teeters. “He purchased that convention center only to sell it.”
On September of this year, Judge Rhoades ordered the original City Agreement be in place and now all monies and tax revenues will convey.
The A&P Commission later reviewed a list of requests submitted by the Gathering of Authors to the A&P Commission, among them was the request of the removal of Chairman Buddy Allen.
Their complaint dates back to September when the appropriations of funds was called into question. Attorney Josh Potter clarified the bylaws to require all commissioners be present to appropriate monies outside the regular initial, yearly applications.
Bowers and Thompson called into question several instances where the commission was not present in entirety to approve or decline those funds.
Commissioner Joyce Dennington fears a lawsuit is imminent.
“From everything i’ve reviewed, we have already admitted that we violated our bylaws and state statutes,” she declared. “I was in that meeting for a long time and we certainly discussed the Gathering of Authors. That meeting was not about that topic.”
“You [the Commission] have righted what was perceived as wrong, and going back the taxpayer lawsuit, there would have to be a misappropriation of funds or illegal awards of funding,” said Attorney Josh Potter.
“It will cost us taxpayer money if we are sued,” added Dennington.
Claude Moore added that a previous lawsuit was brought up regarding inconsistent practices the A&P has executed in the past.
“I make a motion that we adhere to these suggestions,” said Dennington. The suggestion being the removal of Chairman Buddy Allen.
The Commissioners convened for an executive session, where they decided to pursue no further action.
“It’s unfortunate the A&P has chosen to allow Mr. Allen to drag them down with him. I guess my only option left as a taxpayer is to file a lawsuit as Mr. Potter suggested,” asserted Bowers.