Little Rock residents will officially have the chance to pass or fail a 1% sales and use tax in September.
Over a series of votes, the Little Rock Board of Directors on Tuesday approved both calling a special election on Sept. 14, and for the sales tax to be enacted by the City of Little Rock, if passed by voters. According to the resolution regarding the election itself, if the public does pass the sales tax, collection of it would begin on Jan. 1, 2022.
Though she voted for the ordinance calling for the election, City Director Erma Hendrix said she believed more time should be taken to talk about the tax and how the money will be spent.
"We should have more time to talk to our constituents. Some of us can sit up here and pretend that we have talked to our constituents. And that’s not so. People have lied time after time of what their constituents have told them, when I have talked to many constituents of this entire city that have never talked to their elected officials," Hendrix said.
Though the vote on calling the election on Sept. 14 did pass by a vote of 6-3, the emergency clause on the ordinance did not, meaning it will take effect in 30 days as opposed to immediately. According to Thomas Carpenter, City Attorney for Little Rock, the lack of an emergency clause should not add additional complications regarding the election.
The board also voted to add a sunset to the proposed tax, so that if passed, it would still expire after 10 years. However, the board did not have enough votes to pass a resolution that specifically outlines what that collected money would go toward.
According to the failed resolution, some of the categories where funding would’ve gone include public safety, economic development, neighborhood programs and early childhood education operations.
In speaking before the vote on the resolution, city director and Vice Mayor Lance Hines said he did not believe the way the sales tax proposal was created and handled was “unifying.”
"I’m disheartened in knowing how this board has been able to work together in the past with the previous mayor. I will not be supporting this sales tax in any way, and I just, I’m very disappointed," Hines said.
Hines also made a motion to table voting on the resolution until the board’s first meeting in July, which failed.
Though the resolution ultimately did not pass, a different plan of where the funding would go could be approved during a future Board of Directors meeting.