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Little Rock sales tax vote

The City of Little Rock is asking voters to approve a one-cent sales tax in a special election Tuesday to fund a variety of projects from the zoo, to police and firefighters to a research technology park.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The City of Little Rock is asking voters to approve a one-cent sales tax in a special election Tuesday to fund a variety of projects from the zoo, to police and firefighters to a research technology park.

Voting numbers just released Monday night show more than 2,700 Little Rock voters have already voted in the special election. Nearly 600 voted Monday alone.

A group of pastors got out the vote at a noon rally Monday supporting Mayor Mark Stodola's penny sales tax increase.

"Commemorating ten years of 9/11 where enemies hit this country and tried to challenge our democracy, we have to have safe streets, we have to have good law enforcement," said one pastor.

"We started this campaign talking about this importance of what one single penny would mean for the future of this city," added Stodola.

Like the signs around Little Rock say, Stodola says a vote for the tax is a vote for safer neighborhoods and more jobs.

"We want people back to work, and this is going to be an opportunity to do that," says Stodola.

Jim Lynch leads the "$500-Million Tax Too Much!" committee.

"It's just out of touch for ordinary families. People are struggling to pay their mortgages," says Lynch.

Two sales tax initiatives appear on the ballot. There is a five-eighths of a cent permanent tax for the operating budget which includes hiring more police officers and firefighters.

There is also a three-eighths of a cent tax for special projects like a controversial research park.

Lynch thinks the tax disproportionately impacts poor families.

"Everything they buy, the sales tax hits. A larger percentage of their income obviously goes to sales taxes," he says.

"A person making 428,000 a year would be paying about $42 over an entire year, so I'm disappointed that the other side on this thing have basically just totally exaggerated and distorted the accuracy of those issues," says Stodola.

Monday night at City Hall, FOX16 caught up with the head of the Little Rock firefighters' union who says supporting the tax is an issue of public safety. The City hasn't built a new firehouse since the 1990s.

"If you can imagine the growth that we've had in west Little Rock since that time, that's how much strain's on our department to provide adequate services," said Richard Morehead.

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