State Rep. John Walker, who carries community clout however much the white business establishment may resent it, is distributing a letter announcing his opposition to the Little Rock proposal to raise the half-cent sales tax by 200 percent, to 1.5 cents on the dollar, to fuel a 26 percent annual increase in city spending.
You and I live generally in the less advantaged areas of this prosperous city (south of I-630 and East of Bowman Rd.). I am the State Representative for District 34. I write you because of my concern that the City of Little Rock has misrepresented the facts about and need for an additional $500,000,000 tax to stimulate the growth of city government.
Please join with me and other progressive citizens and VOTE NO on the $500,000,000 sales tax proposal by the city of Little Rock which it misleads as a one penny tax.
• The city wants to employ more than 100 new employees. More than 70 of them will commute from and live in the suburban flight cities. Those commuters will then spend our funds to build up their own cities. We have seen the pitfalls of outsourcing jobs at the national level. Outsourcing has our economy reeling. I submit that 100 new jobs are not necessary for city government to deliver services for the population we have.
• City Hall now spends $1,463,000 every year for jail operations and proposes to add $300,000 each year for the current jail with this tax proposal. The City also will be asked to pay a proportionate share for a new 400 bed jail now being built by the county. This tax proposal also includes two additional multi-million dollar police substations and fifty-two additional police officers. The City’s position is contrary to its own facts which show that crime is on a steady, downward trend in Little Rock and that citizen calls to the LR Police Department declined 13% over the last decade.
• The fire destroyed Adult Leisure Center on 12th street was left for more than 2 1/2 years as an eyesore and health hazard. Rather than rebuild it the directors tried to use the insurance money to operate city government. That failed. The City now promises to rebuild the center with the $2,000,000 insurance proceeds. City officials, however, blatantly say that they will make the adult center a $1,000,000 nicer place than it was if we vote for the tax. That sounds like an attempt to buy our votes. That is neither respectful nor ingenious.
• Governor Beebe and the Legislature gave back many millions of dollars through eliminating the grocery tax. Little Rock proposes to reverse this policy, take the grocery tax for itself forever and put it to use for many ill-defined projects. I submit that this $500,000,000 tax, couched as being just a penny, does not make either good sense or good cents nor represent good public policy. The tax does nothing to bring this city together along racial and income lines. That failure imperils the worth of our City. Little Rock can do better to bring us together as a people. Please vote against this regressive tax.
For these reasons I urge you to VOTE NO on the city’s proposal on or before September 13.
John W. Walker
Rep. District 34