The Little Rock Board of Directors tonight voted to put a two-part sales tax increase on a special election ballot Sept. 13 It would provide 5/8ths of a cent for operations on a permanent basis. Voters also will consider an increase of 3/8ths of a cent for 10 years for capital projects, a major chunk of it to provide $38 million for economic development.
All directors voted for the proposals except Kenneth Richardson, who voted no, and Erma Hendrix, who voted present.
The economic development portion of the temporary tax was almost the sole topic of discussion in public comments preceding the vote.
The City Board first rejected Director B.J. Wyrick's motion to amend the election resolution to require a separate vote on two economic development expenditures — $22 million for a research "park" to be operated by a board appointed by the city, UAMS and UALR, and $10 million for expansion of the Little Rock Port. Wyrick said she supported the economic development projects, but said she feared they could drag down the rest of the proposal for vital services. Vice Mayor Dean Kumpuris said dividing the proposal into four separate questions would be confusing. Her idea failed on a voice vote.
Director Kenneth Richardson then suggested reducing the capital proposal to a four-year term rather than 10 years and appoint a citizens commission to work on city needs. His motion drew no second.