PINE BLUFF, Ark. – A proposed sales tax initiative appears to be mentally taxing for some people living in the city of Pine Bluff.
‘Go Forward Pine Bluff’ is behind this measure on the ballot. CEO Ryan Watley said this is to continue boosting the economy of Pine Bluff, though the President of NAACP in Pine Bluff, Ivan Whitfield, is speaking out against it, saying he questions the motives of the tax initiative and where the money is really going.
The tax has been around the city for several years already and voters will decide in May whether or not to renew it.
“They had the audacity to come back to the city council and the mayor and ask that it be put back on the ballot again,” Whitfield said.
Whitfield also said from what he has seen in the past, this will do anything but help his community. He said he believes it hurts the poor and benefits those who need it the least.
“They promised it was going to bring retail stores downtown, six years later it has not arrived yet. They promised an eatery and a kid’s zone to the mall, six years later we are still waiting,” Whitfield said.
Watley argued that new additions to the town are being made, it just will take time for people to see all of them.
“We’re going to finish up this first cycle with about $30 million in projects, from our new Marriott Hotel, our new 6th and Main incubator, our new retail and restaurant district, and our go-kart track,” Watley said.
Voters will decide on this tax initiative in May.
Whitfield said he questions the timing of that election and believes Go Forward wanted it to fly under the radar for voters and pass more easily, though Watley said they put it on a special election ballot this May, rather than the ballot in November, solely so voters could focus on this specific issue.