Little Rock Board of Directors stall sales tax increase

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Little Rock’s current sales tax rate is staying steady for the time being.

Mayor Frank Scott, Jr.’s penny sales tax increase was tabled by city director’s today, a move that came after a lengthy debate that lasted nearly an hour.

It will be discussed again on April 27th during a special session. 

Directors heard from community members and city leaders who were both for and against the tax increase.

Those who would benefit from funds created by the proposal addressed the board and discussed how the expected $53 million annually would benefit the city.

After a split vote, the city board decided to hold off on deciding to forward the measure to voters in this summer’s special election.

If later approved by the board, Little Rock residents would have their chance to give the ok or veto on July 13th.  

The “Rebuild the Rock” proposal has been on the table for weeks. It would permanently change the city’s sales tax to 9.625%, replacing the 3/8 capital tax that the city has had since 2012.

Profit from the tax increase would head to a series of 10-year projects, with the first bought focused on “quality of life”.

34% would head to parks and recreation improvements, including additions to Hindman and War Memorial parks, creating an indoor sports complex, and building a senior center.

Public safety comes next, with 12% allocated to building a new West Little Rock fire station and replacing emergency vehicles, including fire engines.

The Little Rock Zoo, infrastructure, and early childhood education are other priorities under the proposal.

The increase would fund new animal habitats and cover operating expenses for the Zoo, allow for street resurfacing split evenly between the wards, and create a college savings account for public school students.

The rest raised would be split between capital improvement projects, the Affordable Housing Fund, economic development, and neighborhood programs, including Downtown Little Rock and the Museum of Discovery. 

Every 10 years, new projects would be proposed and approved by the board. 

Directors have previously been concerned about the focus on parks and not, for example, infrastructure improvements.

Others add that previous city projects still need to be completed. But those in favor say the increase would allow the city to continue to improve and would back projects that aren’t covered in the city’s yearly budget. 

This is the second year in a row Mayor Scott, Jr.’s plan has stalled. His initial rollout was planned for March of last year, but the COVID pandemic put a stop to his plans before it went to a vote. 

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