The Little Rock Board of Directors may soon consider whether to ask voters to approve a sales tax increase. In May, Ward 3 Director Kathy Webb made a successful motion to table consideration of Mayor Frank Scott Jr.’s plan to add 1% to the city’s sales tax rate, which would generate an estimated $53 million per year. Webb’s motion was to table consideration for 60 days, until July 13, but at tonight’s city board agenda meeting, Webb asked for the ordinance and resolution that would trigger the election to be added to the board’s June 15 meeting. Scott said a special meeting might be necessary. There was no further discussion.
Webb, in calling for a delay in May, said the city should wait to hear more about how it can spend millions of dollars it has received as part of the federal American Rescue Plan. The city is slated to get $37.5 million. It recently received half of the money; the other half will come in 2022; it has to be spent by 2024). She and other city officials have been gathering information in recent days on the spending parameters. She also had complained that she didn’t have sufficient details to share with her constituents.
Eight board members voted with Webb on the motion to table consideration. Only At-large Director Antwan Phillips and Ward 1 Director Erma Hendrix opposed it. They and Ward 2 Director Ken Richardson are seen as safe yes votes on the tax. Webb and her friend and neighboring Ward 4 Director Capi Peck don’t vote in lockstep, but they’re often aligned. If Webb’s concerns have been allayed, it’s relatively safe to guess that Peck’s have as well. At-large Director Joan Adcock and Vice-Mayor and Ward 5 Director Lance Hines are near certain nos. That leaves At-large Director Dean Kumpuris or Ward 6 Director Doris Wright as potential swing votes.