[Click here for a related story on the opposition and click here for details about early voting].
Early voting begins today on a pivotal election that will affect the future of our community. The City has proposed two ballot items that Little Rock voters will consider to increase the city sales tax by a penny. One ballot item will increase the current city sales tax rate by 5/8 of a cent to fund operational expenses, while the other will increase the sales tax rate by 3/8 of a cent to fund various capital projects throughout the city. It is important that both items pass for our community to move forward. I would like to ask you to cast Two Votes For Little Rock's Future between now and September 13th.
Little Rock, as our capital city, currently has the lowest city sales tax rate in the state at a cent. The sales tax rate has never been raised in 17+ years, despite the growth in our population. I hope you will agree with me that an additional penny on a dollar is a wise investment in our capital city. Currently, every city around us and every city in the northwest corridor of the state, from Fort Smith to Bentonville, has anywhere from 100% to 300% more city sales tax than the City of Little Rock. Is this request of our citizens reasonable? I believe the answer is definitely yes, as evidenced by the many organizations and individuals who have come out in support of the proposal. Please note that even after its passage, 20 out of the 50 largest cities in Arkansas will still have a higher city sales tax rate than Little Rock. Casting Two Votes For this proposal will provide enough revenue for our city to provide the type of services that our citizens deserve.
The tax proposal will provide funds in four main areas:
1. Public Safety - The City will hire and retain police officers, firefighters and code enforcement officers as well as build two much-needed fire stations and build a police substation in Midtown and in West Little Rock.
2. Public Works - The proposal includes $72 million over 10 years for street resurfacing, building sidewalks, building drainage systems and other building projects.
3. Parks and Recreation, Zoo and Tourism - The City will develop athletic fields for our children, build the West Central Community Center and improve maintenance at parks across the city. The Little Rock Zoo, a proven economic engine, will receive $8 million in capital upgrades.
4. Job Creation - The City will use $10 million for land acquisition at the Little Rock Port and $22 million for land acquisition and infrastructure development of a Research Technology Park so that new jobs focused on the 21st Century can be created. The City will also use $6 million to recruit new businesses to locate in our city.
I urge you to join me in casting Two Votes For Little Rock's Future on Tuesday, September 13 (or you can vote early starting September 6). Please go to www.littlerock.org/priority-needs where we will be posting more information about this proposal as well as answers to some frequently asked questions.
Please pass this on to your friends and relatives and email lists urging them to cast Two Votes For Little Rock's Future as well.