LITTLE ROCK - Less than two months after voters said "yes" to a sales tax hike, Little Rock is moving forward with major improvements to public safety.
City leaders and Little Rock Fire Department officials broke ground Tuesday morning on an 8,000 square foot fire station at the corner of Rahling Rd and Taylor Loop in west Little Rock.
The city needed $800,000 to finish funding its 21st fire station. Voters made it happen approving a 1-cent sales tax in September.
"I hope it sends a message that the city is committed to making sure that public safety is number one,” fire chief Gregory Summers says. “Not only that, we're going to follow through with what we said we were going to do with the funds."
And soon you'll see more police on the streets. The city of Little Rock is looking to hire 30 officers right now at a starting salary of $38,000, potential applicants must apply on-line
Sergeant Heath Helton says he is ready for a crop of rookies.
"I’m very excited, it is something we've been waiting for a long time,” Helton says. "It's a challenging job but its something that is different that any other job out there. And if you have a strong desire to help people I think it is a great line of work to get into.
The city begins collecting the enhanced sales tax in January. Mayor Mark Stodola says the city can begin spending the proceeds in March.
"When you go out and ask the citizens to help you in these ways and to help themselves as well, we have to make sure that we're transparent and that we're keeping our promise to them on what we're doing," Stodola says.
LRPD did not have a rookie police academy in 2011 due to a lack of funds. The department hopes to have two full academies in 2012, hiring a total of 60 officers.