PINE BLUFF, Ark. – For the second time, the people of Pine Bluff have voted against two Go-Forward Pine Bluff sales tax proposals.
The first proposal of the non-profit organization is a three-eighth-cent sales tax for public safety initiatives.
The other proposal is a five-eighth-cent sales tax for projects aimed at making the city more inviting.
A special election was held with this same topic on the ballot in May, and six months later it’s the same result.
“It’s definitely not what we wanted,” Go-Forward CEO Ryan Watley said.
He said the people had a tough time trusting the process after it was approved by voters in 2017.
“This funding source is sorely needed for the city of Pine Bluff,” Watley said.
“The citizen wants to know where the money went,” community activist Jihad Muhammad said.
Muhammad said out of the six years of paying these taxes, Go-Forward does not have one complete building to show for it. That’s why no was the vote.
Multiple Go-Forward projects such as the go-kart track on East Harding and Sixth and Main Street Developments have started construction.
“They see a bunch of groundbreakings going on, but they don’t see anything of substance,” Muhammad said.
Watley said Go-Forward “wants to make sure that the mistrust is cleared up,” and he feels that getting these tasks done with help with that because the people will “begin to see more and more.”
Muhammad said the vote won’t change until Go-Forward’s plan represents all Pine Bluff taxpayers.
“It must consider the thoughts, needs, ideas and wishes of every category of citizens in this city,” he said.
Watley said Go-Forward is still on pace to finish the projects they have broken ground on by September 2024.
He said although they aren’t receiving tax dollars anymore, Go-Forward has raised and saved nearly 30 million dollars.