|Updated: 3/05/2012 11:15 pm
||Published: 3/05/2012 7:44 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - In your FOX16 Money Alert, Monday Little Rock's Citizen's Evaluation of New Tax (CENT) Committee met for the first time and outlined its goals of how to make sure Little Rock's new sales tax revenue is spent transparently.
The City of Little Rock will know how much sales tax revenue came in in January 2012 on March 21. If the projected money doesn't come in, or more comes in than expected, it's CENT's role to give input to city directors on how some of the funds should be spent. That's where you come in.
Twelve Little Rock citizens will act as your sales tax revenue watch dogs. They make up CENT.
"I've been involved with the city with the airport commission," said Gary Smith.
"I grew up in southwest Little Rock, but I live in Hillcrest," said another member.
The two co-chairs, three at large members and one committee member from each ward will oversee the spending of millions of dollars in sales tax revenue paying for projects already in motion- from new police and fire stations to improvements to the zoo and city parks.
"We have drafted a plan that would fund all of the public safety projects in the first five years," says Sara Lenehan who is the Little Rock Finance Director.
The City already approved a priority list of road and drainage projects in each ward. Next year, every ward will have its fair share of nearly 59-million dollars, and you can have a say on what the money pays for.
"How do you handle that many opinions?" asked FOX16's Kelly Dudzik.
"Well, what everybody has to understand is before the tax was even voted in, the city board presented an entire list of how the operating funds and how the capital improvement funds would be spent. So, that is already in writing, and that is what we are here to monitor," said Gary Smith.
When it comes to the $59-million, the City plans to launch a website where you can submit requests.
"It will never be enough, but the money has already been allocated by category and voted on by the voters, and so we are there to ensure that that is carried out," adds Smith.
Next, CENT meets April 18 at 11 a.m. to hear from half of Little Rock's department heads about proposed projects. Then, again on June 20 before reporting back to the board of directors in July.
Also Monday, CENT went over the Freedom of Information Act, and if two or more members meet to talk about the sales tax revenue, they have to notify the press and the public. Their e-mails about the sales tax are also subject to FIOA.