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Mayor Frank Scott Jr. delivers 2024 State of the City Address

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. praised volunteers following the 2023 tornado and called for a new sales tax vote at the 2024 State of the City Address.
Brian Chilson
/
Arkansas Times
Mayor Frank Scott Jr. praised volunteers following the 2023 tornado and called for a new sales tax vote at the 2024 State of the City Address.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. delivered his sixth annual State of the City address at the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday. The address immediately followed an “Involvement Fair,” where city residents were invited to meet with city leaders in an effort to boost civic involvement.

“If there are two words that represent 2023 in Little Rock, they are unity and strength,” Scott said.

The mayor praised the city’s roughly 4,000 volunteers who helped to clean up neighborhoods and streets in the wake of the March 2023 tornado. He said those efforts saved the city “almost $700,000.”

Scott also honored the late Bruce T. Moore, Little Rock’s longest-serving city manager. For his distinctive service, a portion of Arch Street will become Bruce T. Moore Way.

“More than 60% of the city’s budget goes towards protecting our city’s residents,” the mayor said. “Last year, our homicide rate fell 22%. That’s a remarkable turnaround from 2022.”

Scott later renewed calls for a new sales tax vote.

“There was a clear consensus that 2023 would not be the right time to ask for a [new sales tax]. So here we are, a year later. As the church says: the time is now.”

This drew laughs from the crowd in attendance but Mayor Scott pressed on, describing how the tax would “spark growth” in the city. The tax will ostensibly be used to support police and fire departments, build and maintain roads and sidewalks, and develop a new youth sports complex.

The mayor spoke on the growing number of unhoused individuals in Little Rock. He was pleased to announce that a housing project was currently in construction. These individual, small homes will offer shelter to some of the city’s unhoused population later this year.

The mayor also unveiled his “Holistic Housing Initiative.” The city will soon hire its first Chief Homelessness Officer, who will work with the city’s landlords to create a vacant property registry to identify available units for unsheltered individuals.

“We’re committed to making this process accessible and affordable for our community’s diverse needs, ensuring every resident has a place to call home.” Scott said.

The mayor also used the platform to remind everyone of the coming solar eclipse on April 8. He expects thousands of people from out of state to flock to Little Rock to view the event.

Scott concluded by saying that he was pleased with last year’s results, but that there is more work to be done.

“As we work towards more results in the Rock, let’s raise our standards and cultivate a sense of pride and progress within ourselves,” the mayor said. “Let us join together because we know division and disunity stifle transformation. Little Rock, we are united and strong.”

Seth Hooker is a George C. Douthit Endowed Scholarship recipient, interning at Little Rock Public Radio from UA Little Rock's professional writing program. He enjoys (being seen) reading literary classics and one day aspires to write one of his own. He lives in Bryant with his wife and three daughters.