A plan to ask Little Rock taxpayers to approve a 1-cent sales tax increase has been shelved indefinitely, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said at a press conference Wednesday. The mayor also announced that he was expanding the city curfew to 9 p.m.-5 a.m. The new curfew goes into effect Thursday.
Little Rock Police will enforce the curfew especially targeting groups of 10 or more. The mayor also said that beginning Monday, after spring break concludes, the city will enforce an existing law that prevents minor children from being out in public from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. The day curfew will remain effect until April 17 when school is set to resume (which seems unlikely).
Scott said police would provide warnings first, but were prepared to write citations to people breaking the curfews. Exceptions to the evening curfew include traveling to and from work. For the day curfew, exceptions include children accompanied by an adult, youth traveling to the grocery store for a senior citizen or youth going to or from work. Like the evening curfew, Scott said the daytime curfew for minors was largely aimed at limiting children gathering in groups.
“We cannot do business as usual,” Scott said. “These are unusual times. We must do all within our power and authority slow the spread of this virus. We are in a public health emergency.”
Scott also asked the public to consider making a tax-deductible donation to a Little Rock Cares fund to support feeding efforts and the purchase of personal protective equipment for local medical professionals and first responders. He also encouraged companies or medical professionals who had a stockpile of personal protective equipment to contact the city’s emergency division at LRcares@littlerock.gov. The city will begin receiving donations at its Emergency Operations Center, 7000 Murray St., beginning Thursday.
The city won’t be pursuing a planned 1-cent tax increase “for the foreseeable future,” Scott said. “We are enduring uncertain economic times and there are more difficult days ahead. We need to focus our time and attention on helping small businesses and individual workers who are impacted so we can all survive this season.”
He said city officials would present a budget adjustment to the board of directors soon.
City Manager Bruce Moore said the city was working on a plan to take care of vulnerable populations, including the elderly and housing insecure, to provide space to provide beds for them to be quarantined.