The Quorum Court agreed last night to vote in two weeks on whether to put a quarter-cent sales tax for Rock Region Metro on the March 1 election ballot.
The outlook isn’t wholly promising. Ten votes of the 15-member Quorum Court will be needed and the five Republicans don’t seem inclined. All 10 Democratic votes will be needed and not all are on board yet, from the sounds of the Democrat-Gazette reporting today.
The new argument seems to be, primarily, that tax elections should only be held in November. (At least one Republican JP doesn’t want to allow a vote at all because it might produce a tax increase.) A primary election, with its robust turnout (not to mention judicial elections that WON’T be on the ballot in November except in the case of runoffs) is not good enough voter participation.
This is a terrible policy as a general practice. Sometimes special needs REQUIRE elections at times other than November. But the Tea Partyers apparently will accept nothing less than a November election date.
I’m a supporter of the bus company. Return of residences to core areas of the city and the huge low-income workforce that needs bus transportation to places like the major medical centers demand improvements for this to be a first-class city with efficient mass transit. It is a crying shame that the only realistic source of revenue for city services is the sales tax, with its disproportionate impact on poor people. (Commuter tax, anyone?) But, as one JP noted last night, the poor people affected would be in an even worse fix without dependable transportation to work
Here’s another thing: Special elections don’t guarantee passage of sales taxes. Jonesboro voters handily defeated two sales tax proposals last night. One, for 7/8-cent, was for infrastructure. The other, well defeated, was to turn over 1/8-cent to city officials to hand out for economic development — corporate welfare in other words. I’d rather tax groceries to help give working people a ride to work than tax them to improve the bottom line of corporations.