LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – After months of discussion, the Rebuild the Rock penny sales tax proposal has been tabled until July.
The Little Rock Board of Directors were supposed to vote on the measure Tuesday night, but city leaders decided to put off the vote for another 60 days.
The special-called meeting went off with a bang – with directors wasting no time in making their thoughts on Rebuild the Rock known.
Many had hoped this would be the final sales tax discussion before a vote, but that isn’t what happened.
Almost immediately after the first ordinance’s (the sales tax proposal is comprised of two ordinances and a resolution) third reading.
Director Kathy Webb of Ward 3 tried to table the vote, issuing a motion that was quickly seconded. In her initial motion, there was debate over whether she included a date to pick the measure up once more, or left it as indefinite.
But Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. said he wouldn’t entertain a motion until citizens were able to speak, sparking a debate between the Mayor, City Attorney Thomas Carpenter, and Vice Mayor Lance Hines as to what the proper point of order was and if the motion was allowed to be voted on.
The following argument was what one resident called “a spectacle”.
The board ultimately voted to take a 5-minute recess less than 20 minutes into the meeting. Upon their return, citizens were able to share their comments both for and against the proposal.
Webb then rephrased her motion, specifically citing the date of July 13th for the next possible vote and explaining why she needed more time.
There were several reasons cited: Webb wanted to see what could be done with money headed to the city from the American Rescue Plan, she mentioned citizen concern over the lack of the tax sunset, and asked directors to entertain extending the current 3/8 Capital sales tax.
7 other directors agreed; the motion passed on a vote of 8 to 2 with Directors Erma Hendrix, Ward 1, and Antwan Phillips, At-Large, voting “no”.
Scott voiced his frustration over the two-month delay following the meeting, saying, “It was disappointing that members of the city board did not want the people of Little Rock to make a decision for themselves.”
His disappointment was echoed by Phillips, who told watching citizens, “I want the people to know that we decided not to hear from you today.”
With two more months until a potential vote, directors say they hope more people will do their research and have their questions answered, while Scott watches as his nearly two-year project stalls once again.
“This proposal represents innovation and growth,” Scott said. “A vote to delay is stagnate.”