NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The mayor of North Little Rock is calling for a one-percent sales tax increase that voters will decide on during a special election this summer.
We looked in to what’s behind the push, and why some are pushing back…
Kenneth Wallis is proud to live in North Little Rock. What he’s not proud of, he says, is how the city balances its budget.
“So now here I am fighting against yet another tax increase in the city of North Little Rock,” Wallis said.
The city is asking for a one-cent sales tax hike to be decided in a special election on August 8.
Mayor Joe Smith says it’s the only option to get their books back on track.
In the last decade, the city’s tax revenue has flatlined, with expenses growing by nearly 36 percent.
“It’s gotten to the point now that we realize the only way to give a good balanced budget is to raise income or to cut expenses, and when you cut expenses it always means people,” Mayor Smith said.
The one percent proposal is split into two parts. Half of it would fund improvements for streets, drainage, and city buildings and expire after five years.
The other half would be permanent revenue to help North Little Rock pay its bills.
“We believe that if the city government would stick to police, fire, sanitation, basic needs, and not do all these pet projects and give themselves constant raises we believe the city would be well within budget,” Wallis said.
But Smith argues factors out of their control, like losing a million dollars in sales tax every year to online shopping.
“That’s my goal between now and Sugust 8, to talk to as many people as I can, show them the numbers, and let them make an educated and calculated vote,” Mayor Smith said.
That’s Wallis’s goal too. Because while the mayor may call this the “North Little Rock Proud” campaign, Wallis says, “This spending is nothing to be proud of.”
If passed, North Little Rock’s sales tax rate would be at 9.5 percent, half a cent higher than Little Rock’s.
Early voting starts August 1. The voting times and locations will be released Wednesday.