JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - "I only wanted to ask the people for the least amount possible to take care of the city budget--to balance it in 11, 12, 13 and on out," said Perrin.
Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin says it will take a half cent sales tax increase to both balance the city's budget and stop deficit spending.
"We'll use this money for public safety, because that's what this is, is a public safety tax," said Perrin.
Perrin says projections show the tax would generate about 6 million dollars annually. He says that money will go into the city's general revenue account to fund police, fire, animal control and E-911--freeing up money for other city departments.
"This tax is not to start hiring 15, 20, or 30 new people, that is not the case at all. This tax is to simply maintain the level of service that we have now through our public safety for the people," said Perrin.
Perrin says public safety is almost 60 percent of the city's entire operating budget. He adds, if this tax increase does not pass, as many as 27 firefighters and 40 police officers could be laid off.
"We've cut the pencils, pads, and all the little stuff--now it's down to personnel," said Perrin.
Perrin says the city will ask the half cent sales tax be in place for four years. Now, the ordinances--one asking for the tax--the other for the special election to be held August 10th, will be put on the city council's agenda to be read at three different meetings. If okayed by the council, it will be in voters hands come August. Until then--Perrin says his goal is to reach those voters.
"We're going to have these community conversations again and talk about the tax--we'll have all of our presentations ready there," said Perrin.
If passed, the tax collection will begin January 1, 2011.