New park tax for Little Rock?

Local

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- One Little Rock board member wants to address the city’s crime issue in a different way.

Dr. Dean Kumpuris believes part of the solution is to revitalize city parks.

Right now all of this is in the very early stages. It was just brought to the attention of the mayor and city leaders Thursday in a letter written by Kumpuris.

The letter proposed the city should focus on revitalizing parks. It came after the city recently closed two public golf courses.

In the letter Kumpuris states that the board “promised citizens they would re-purpose the courses, but failed to say when this would be accomplished and where the money would come from.”

He’s also proposing a temporary tax to spruce up the parks, saying better parks make safer communities.

Kumpuris says to his knowledge the city has not increased the parks budget for more than 20 years and instead has asked park staff to do more with less.

He says his first proposal is to ask the city attorney to draft an ordinance to outline the procedure where all the parks in Little Rock and the zoo will be reviewed with the goal of having an election in 2020 for a dedicated source of funding. He expects it to cost about $25 million.

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. responded to the letter Friday with the statement below.

“As the Mayor of Little Rock, I am focused squarely on fighting for the residents of Little Rock and to unite the city to help it reach its full potential. I look forward to working with the members of the Board to move the city forward, just as I promised voters I would do. This isn’t a one-person show, and I need and value the Board of Director’s wisdom and support. However, our City does not need perceived in-fighting from its elected officials. I promised our citizens that I would work every day to unify this City, and I will continue to do so, not only with our citizens, but also our Board of Directors.

When I was elected in December, voters said overwhelmingly they wanted a mayor to create a new direction for our city. The people of Little Rock have become fed up with the decades-long stagnation in Little Rock. We are working to make Little Rock one of the safest cities in the South, increase jobs growth, and create a better quality of life and place for all Little Rock residents. For example, this is why it was important to amend the 2019 budget to ensure that we are responsible stewards of City resources.

I’m glad Director Kumpuris agrees with our vision to invest more in our City’s parks system and infrastructure. Together, we will revitalize, reimagine, and reinvest. The #R3LR Parks Task Force is exactly the mechanism needed to help identify best use for parks and how to fund an updated and upgraded parks system. We are excited about the possibilities for our parks and look forward to the recommendations from the #R3LR Parks Task Force.

We cannot keep down the same path of stagnation and lack. We must change the perception that City Hall is ineffective. We must work every day to make Little Rock a place of choice and not circumstance. We must embrace the future and cast a vision for a better Little Rock. I have a different vision, and I hope the Board and I can work together to bring Little Rock’s swagger back.”

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