Little Rock residents talk tax increase, share ideas for funds

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — It’s been a hot topic of discussion, Mayor Frank Scott, Jr.’s sales tax increase and where that money would head.

Board members made their opinions clear in Tuesday night’s meeting, choosing not to vote to forward the ordinance for a second reading, but what do residents think about shelling over a few extra cents?

Most people polled said they would support the increase if it came to a vote – but only if the money is going to the right places. And not everyone was on board.

Weeks after its introduction, Mayor Frank Scott, Jr’s sales tax increase has stalled.

With board members refusing to talk until a special session next week, the debate surrounding the tax now heads to the people.

For Nicholas Sanders, a Little Rock resident, the permanent boost is worth the money it would raise.

“I wouldn’t have a problem with it,” Sanders said when asked if he supported the measure. “We lose a lot of funds because people are willing to drive two hours over to Memphis or they go over to Tunica when we could bring those things here.”

He feels funds should go to tourism in the Rock, adding attractions that would boost the economy and appeal to residents, too. “We can get a Top Golf like they have in northwest Arkansas,” Sanders provided.

Howard Lewis is also on board – but asks where the money would go.

“It’s always a good thing to raise that money,” said the Little Rock neighbor, “But it’s also important where that money is going to be allocated to.” For him, infrastructure is a priority. “Roads are always going to be a big deal,” he said.

But of the areas funded through the tax, road resurfacing is low, only receiving about 12% while “quality of life” gets 34%. This concern over-allocation was echoed in Tuesday’s meeting.

Greg Moore spoke on behalf of Arkansas Community Organizations. He said it’s unfair to be voting on a tax increase while the city is still reeling from a pandemic.

“We are as an organization in opposition to any new sales tax proposed while we are still recovering from a year of economic hardship,” Moore said while taking the podium. “Housing would receive only 4%. The Zoo gets 9%.”

He isn’t alone – concerned citizens also wrote to the board, making it clear their vote would be “no”. The city clerk read this from a neighbor: “Until I see some real change, I will be voting against any tax increase.”

Board members will have a second chance to go over the proposal. They’ll be meeting April 27th in a special session to tackle the ordinances once more.

If passed, Little Rock residents will be able to vote on the increase July 13th.

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