- Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A hearing to decide whether the rural Arkansas community known as Little Italy should become an incorporated town has begun.

County Judge Barry Hyde weighed arguments from both sides of the debate Wednesday but did not make a ruling. He said hearings on the matter would likely continue in January.

The chairmen of the Little Italy Incorporation Task Force, Kristy Eanes and Chris Dorer, presented their argument for incorporation Wednesday. Supporters say incorporation will help preserve the area’s history and improve services to the community.

They proposed a 2016 general budget of nearly $90,000 for the community if it becomes a town. The chairmen estimated that a separate street fund budget would bring in just over $31,000 from county road tax and state gas tax.

Cammack Village Mayor David Graf told the judge that although Cammack Village is about twice the size of Little Italy, the communities are similar in that they do not have a lot of businesses to generate tax revenue.

He said their budget appears to be reasonable from a revenue standpoint.”

Opponents, including Central Arkansas Water, say incorporation would remove Little Italy from Pulaski County’s Lake Maumelle watershed zoning code, which protects the drinking water of about 400,000 customers.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1TSiOeG ) reports that Central Arkansas Water filed a document Wednesday in county court, arguing that the community’s area is too large and that the wooded area in which it is located is unsuitable for a town.

Central Arkansas Water spokesman John Tynan plans to testify at the hearing when it continues on behalf of the utility.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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