LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – After months of work, Little Rock mayor Frank Scott, Jr.’s penny sales tax initiative failed Tuesday evening with only 38 percent of the vote. The nearly two-year journey came to an end during a landslide loss, but the big question remains; what comes next?
Board members are back to square one, having to take a second look at the city’s current 3/8th capital tax passed in 2011 and see what can be updated. The work will have to be done quickly as the tax sunsets this year.
Following the controversial election, those in Little Rock had different reactions to the loss – with many hopeful this marks a fresh start for the city, and a new opportunity for city-wide projects created with neighbors in mind.
When the votes for the penny sales tax rolled in late Tuesday night, nearly 62% of voters shot it down. One of those votes was Greg Moore, co-chair of the Vote No Tax committee created in opposition to the increase.
“I was not expecting it to be such a landslide,” Moore admitted after hearing the results.
Moore said he voted down the measure after believing the spending plan in Rebuild the Rock was too vague, and he worried the increase would harm lower income families.
He’s not alone in his beliefs. Brian Okane, a Little Rock resident, said during a pandemic, every cent counts – even those going back to the city.
“The community spoke and apparently, we won,” Okane said. “As a father of two, it’s tough enough as it is with the coronavirus going on.”
But the election wasn’t a victory for everyone. Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. released a statement soon after the loss, saying in part, “We always knew this would be a difficult journey,” and “I will continue to work closely with the board and residents to make the necessary adjustments for the expiring 3/8th cent sales tax.”
Even with the capital tax as a backup plan, some still want to Rebuild the Rock.
Amy Porter was one of those hopeful the plan would pass. She says the one thing she was most looking forward to was bolstered infrastructure brought about by a few extra million in tax revenue.
“I was in support of it,” Porter said. “The roads I think were a really important thing for me”
Now, the roads and other city improvements are back on the table, projects that Porter and others hope will see new life with the newly altered capital tax.