by Max Brantley
It's election day in Little Rock. On the ballot: increasing the current half-cent city sales tax by 200 percent, to 1.5 cents on the dollar. Over the next 10 years, this is expected to produce, on average, about $50 million a year (a half billion total) in additional money for a city with an annual operating budget of $191 million. The city, in essence, says its budget needs to increase almost 27 percent a year. Did you get a 27 percent raise this year?
I'd guess the tax will be approved. And I'd guess much of it will be spent in the coming years in the same unaccountable way campaign money was spent and in the same unaccountable way the taxpayer subsidy of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce is spent. You can count on deliberations on handouts for economic development to be shielded on account of the need to protect the privacy of private interests — whose interests always outweigh those of taxpayers at City Hall. But, hey. If you can't trust Mayor Mark Stodola and his dining partner Jay Chessir of the LR Chamber to look after interests of working men and women, who can you trust?