by Tyler Hale
In his annual State of the City address, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. called on residents to invest in the city’s growth through a new sales tax initiative. He proposed adding a new one-cent sales tax in order to “lift Little Rock to higher heights.”
“While 2019 was full of growth, it did not come without difficult decision. Last spring, we rightsized city government to align ongoing expenses with ongoing revenue. This was necessary for us to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Scott said in his weekly “Little Rock This Week” video address. “Now that we’ve done all that we can do to ensure that our city is on stable financial footing, we need you invest in a bold plan for our future.”
The one-cent sales tax is aimed at providing quality of life improvements in Little Rock. In his address, Scott specified that the proceeds from the sales tax would be earmarked for park improvements, enhancements for the Little Rock Zoo, early childhood education, infrastructure improvement and economic development.
Scott says the park improvements will include open lawn entertainment, an indoor sports complex, soccer fields, and a senior center at War Memorial and Hindman Parks.
“Little Rock has one of the lowest sales tax among central Arkansas cities. By increasing ours by only one penny, we will be able to reinvest in our parks, such as repurposing War Memorial Park and Hindman Park as two destination venues…,”
Other parks, including the Jimy Dailey Center, Rebsamen tennis Courts and West Central Community Center were also singled out by Scott as targets for improvement.
He aims to use the funds to transform the Little Rock Zoo into a premier destination in the state. “The extra penny will enhance our zoo and make it one of the top tourist attraction in the state through the addition of giraffe, bear, red wolf, and razorback hog exhibits,” he said.
Funds from the sales tax, in addition to supporting infrastructure and public safety, would be used to create an economic development fund. The purpose of the fund would be to create “equitable economic development in our city,” as city officials work to develop more job opportunities. “We will take ownership of our economic future to ensure our city is thriving so we ALL have an opportunity to succeed,” Scott said in the State of the City address.
Scott plans to release additional details about the sales tax initiative “over the next few weeks.”
Read the full State of the City Address here.