In September 2021, Little Rock voters rejected a 1 percentage point sales-tax increase proposed by Mayor Frank Scott Jr. The tax increase would have generated an estimated $530 million over 10 years to fund a variety of city priorities, including parks, infrastructure, public safety, and economic development. However, the proposal was defeated by a vote of 62% to 38%.
There were a number of factors that contributed to the defeat of the sales-tax increase. Some voters were concerned about the tax burden, while others were skeptical of how the money would be spent. Additionally, the proposal was opposed by a number of business groups, who argued that it would hurt the local economy.
The defeat of the sales-tax increase was a setback for Mayor Scott, who had made it a central goal of his administration. However, he has not given up on the idea of raising taxes to fund city priorities. In July 2023, he proposed a new 1% sales-tax increase that would be dedicated to parks and infrastructure. It is unclear whether this proposal will be successful, but it is a sign that Mayor Scott is still committed to finding ways to invest in Little Rock.
The new plan also lacks specific details, which makes it difficult to support. The park system in Little Rock is currently experiencing maintenance and repair issues. Additionally, several parks were heavily damaged by a recent tornado, and there are discussions of a potential park being built over the new I-30 corridor. Furthermore, there are ongoing plans to redevelop War Memorial Park and create the Tri-Creek Greenway. The Arkansas River Trail around the Dillards complex also lacks connectivity. To address these issues, a substantial amount of funding is needed; however, there are no clear plans on how this funding will be utilized.
As of August 2023, the sales tax rate in Little Rock is 8.625%. This consists of a 6.5% state sales tax, a 1% Pulaski County sales tax, and a 1.125% Little Rock sales tax.
The City of Little Rock News Release:
LITTLE ROCK – Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. today encouraged Little Rock residents to provide their feedback on a potential sales tax measure during a series of community meetings later this month. Meetings will take place in each of Little Rock’s seven wards.
Mayor Scott and the Little Rock Board of Directors are considering whether to ask voters to approve a one-cent sales tax increase to fund Little Rock’s priority needs. A one-cent tax would raise at least $60 million annually to fund projects and programs connected to what Mayor Scott refers to as “the four Ps”: Parks and Recreation, Public Safety, Public Infrastructure, and Port/Economic Development.
The community meetings offer Little Rock residents an opportunity to learn more about the proposal and offer their comments. The meeting schedule is:
- Monday, Aug. 14: Unitarian Universalist Church, 1818 Reservoir Road (Ward 4)
- Wednesday, Aug. 16: Second Baptist Church-Downtown, 222 E. Eighth St. (Ward 1)
- Monday, Aug. 21: Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, 5300 Stagecoach Road (Ward 7)
- Wednesday, Aug. 23: Southwest Community Center, 6401 Baseline Road (Ward 2)
- Thursday, Aug. 24: Centre at University Park, 6401 W. 12th St. (Ward 6)
- Monday, Aug. 28: Fellowship Bible Church, 1401 Kirk Road (Ward 5)
- Wednesday, Aug. 30: Christ Little Rock Church, 315 S. Hughes St. (Ward 3)
All community meetings begin at 6 p.m.
(If you are unsure of which Ward you are in, go to the City of Little Rock “Find your Ward Director” Page.)
“The Board and I value the opinions of Little Rock residents and we want to give them a seat at the table as we craft a sales tax proposal that re-energizes our City and creates transformational improvements to quality of life and place,” Mayor Scott said. “I’ve heard from residents across Little Rock who agree we need to re-invest in Little Rock and position the state’s capital city for continued growth and success for years to come.”