An online sales tax took effect July 1 in Arkansas, and it could be a new stream of revenue that keeps small towns afloat.
For example, the city of Gurdon in Clark county has a population of about 2,200 people.
Mayor Sherry Kelley says so far this year, the city has collected about $130,000 in sales tax revenue.
“We don’t have a lot of retail establishments here,” Kelley says.
“We don’t have a lot of places for people to spend money.”
Gurdon’s Main Street looks almost as faded as the street sign. Several buildings remain vacant and for sale. A few small businesses have opened up shop, and the city has even began using some areas for events and seminars.
As of July 1, the new online sales tax could generate an additional $35 million for the state and an additional $11 million for cities and counties, according to the Department of Finance and Administration.
“We have the opportunity now to get money that we deserve,” Kelley says.
Kelley says the new revenue will be used for city services like water and streets. She says she has been relying heavily on grants to pay for things needed around town.
The Gurdon of today is a shell of the Gurdon some people remember when it was a booming railroad town, or even a slightly bigger town in the 1990s.
“If you wanted a pair of Nike shoes you could go down to Main Street,” Coty Russell says.
Russell grew up in Gurdon and graduated from Gurdon High School.
He recognizes the potential in online sales tax and what it can do for a town that many people believe has dried up.
“Knowing that that money might come back to Gurdon is probably a good thing.”