Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. Proposes Sales Tax Increase At State Of The City Address
Mayor Frank Scott Jr. delivered his third annual State of the City address Thursday where he announced his plans to improve the quality of life for residents. During his virtual speech, Scott listed ways he plans to rebrand Little Rock through his one-cent sales tax increase and “Rebuild The Rock Experience.”
Scott began his speech with addressing the hardships the city has endured because of the pandemic. Frontline workers, business owners, and students were invited to tell their stories on how COVID-19 has personally impacted them.
While there were adversities, Scott highlighted the improvements that were made in the midst of a pandemic, such as Asher Avenue being redeveloped and the Geyer Springs overpass being completed.
“After a tumultuous 2020, if there is any doubt the resilience, revival, and renewal of Little Rock, this year will be our answer,” Scott said.
Scott said he will continue renovating the city through his new “Rebuild The Rock” plan.
“It’s time we rebuild the rock,” Scott said. “Our city will undergo a face lift in the coming months with a new logo, website, flag, and mobile app where we will continue to restore a sense of pride, in a place we call home—while also positioning ourselves to attract businesses and residents to Little Rock.”
Scott said he plans to attract businesses and more people to the city by renewing his call for a one-cent sales tax increase. During his speech, Scott asked the Little Rock Board of Directors to approve his proposal that would help reform public safety, reduce crime, create affordable housing, and generate more job opportunities.
“A penny will help us rebuild the rock by building an equitable economic development program that offers incentives to attract and recruit companies to Little Rock, increase jobs, and most importantly, assist with the growth and development of businesses that are already here,” Scott said.
Scott said one penny more will expand early childhood education by investing in a 529 plan for every kindergartner in the Little Rock School District that will go toward a child’s future tuition and college fees.
“A city investment will eliminate the financial strain on parents that need to work.” Scott said. “It will provide technical assistance and training for providers, and expand early childhood education centers across the area south of 630, and southwest Little Rock.”
He said an extra penny will also revitalize War Memorial and Hindman Park, make critical improvements to other park facilities, and expand offerings at the zoo.
The mayor addressed vaccine hesitancy in communities of color and expressed how he was disheartened at data showing minorities are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Scott also asked the Board of Directors to pass an ordinance creating Little Rock’s Health and Wellness Commission that will cater to the needs of Little Rock citizens and the diverse community.
“This commission will focus on improving the quality of life for Little Rock residents by promoting physical and mental wellness” Scott said. “This commission will provide resources and programs to promote helpfulness, and recommend policies to address health disparities and other detrimental issues.”
During his speech, Scott announced a new 12-week program called BUILD, which empowers entrepreneurs to scale their businesses, address income disparity, and more. Applications will start being accepted April 15.