Little Rock City Hall Brian Chilson

In The Little Rock Board of Directors will have a special meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday (wrong day written originally) to discuss Mayor Frank Scott Jr.’s revised idea for a one-cent sales tax increase Jan. 1, accompanied with a proposal for spending an estimated half-billion-dollars in revenue over the next 10 years for a range of city services, including new initiatives in early childhood education and housing.

Comments at previous meetings and since by city directors indicate resistance continues for a variety of reasons, including different priorities for spending; the extraordinary spending proposed for Zoo exhibits; a desire to sunset the tax (or at least a portion of it), and questions about the city getting into early childhood education.

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If approved by the board (five votes of the 10-member board are needed for the mayor’s plan, with him to break a tie), the election would be July 23.

A resolution up for consideration Monday includes a sheet on spending in each area of city government.

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Baker Kurrus, a defeated candidate for mayor in 2018, continues to circulate letters questioning the size of the increase, given the city’s high taxes and excessive growth in personnel and administrative spending at City Hall.

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I’d mentioned his thoughts before. But in a new letter, which you can read here, he makes a point about the different ideas on spending, whether from the mayor or city board members.

The mayor and the city board are currently negotiating about how much of the “$530,000,000” of tax increases over the next ten years should go to various programs and departments.  They are “tweaking” the proposal, in an apparent effort to garner city directors’ votes to put the proposal on the ballot.  This unhealthy bilateral  bargaining assumes that the ordinance which outlines the use of the money is binding.

 

This “tweaking” is a waste of time, because the ordinance [actually a resolution] which purports to allocate future tax revenue is non-binding.  It is a nullity, and means nothing to future boards. The hard truth is that we are being asked to approve a huge permanent tax increase with no assurance that it will be spent on anything in particular.