CONWAY, Ark. — Voters in Conway will decide Tuesday if the city should increase its sale tax by .38%. The proposal expects to raise more than $5 million a year, expiring after five years.
If approved, Mayor Bart Castleberry says the revenue raised will go solely to street improvements. Castleberry says the tax hike is a small price to pay for public safety and convenience.
“We really are in need when it comes to our streets,” he said. “These are the streets that people drive on every day to go to the doctor’s office, to take their kids to school, and to go to work.”
Castleberry points to Stanley Russ Road on Conway’s south side as example of a street falling into disrepair and needing replacement. The city loses more than $3 million a year, according to Castleberry, as neglected roads start to crumble.
“I hit a pothole the other day, and the radio went off,” he said.
The tax increase proposal would raise funds to overlay the asphalt on roads in jeopardy, extending their lifespan by at least a decade. By repairing roads now, instead of replacing them in the future, Castleberry says that will save the city more money in the long run.
However, opponents argue the city needs to fund those road repairs from revenue it already receives, even if that means reallocating tax dollars from other city expenses.
“We looked at cutting personnel,” Castleberry explained. “But if you’re losing $3.1 million worth of streets annually, we couldn’t cut enough people.”
The mayor is optimistic Conway will vote yes on the sales tax increase, paving the way for better streets and a better city.
“It’s just a good thing for Conway,” he said. “Something we really need to do.”
Requests for comment from individuals who had spoken out publicly against the tax increase were not returned as of Monday evening.
Day-of voting runs 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM at McGee Sports Complex (3800 College Avenue) and Don Owens Sports Complex (10 Lower Ridge Road)
Click here for a link to Conway’s proposed road projects.