Visitors to Jonesboro help create big budget boost

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - "Jonesboro is just one of those cities in the State of Arkansas that is blessed to be a regional hub, said City of Jonesboro Operations Director, Gary Harpole.

Jonesboro is home to an estimated 68 thousand plus, according to Harpole, but it's a place to work, eat, shop and much more to tens of thousands of others.

"The police department estimates that we have somewhere between 110-120 thousand per day in the city at any given time," said Harpole.

Harpole says a benefit of being a regional draw is that a large percentage of sales taxes are generated by people coming to Jonesboro to shop or do business.

"It's been estimated that 40 to 50 percent of the sales tax generated actually comes from people who don't live here," said Harpole.

Harpole says that increase of people means an increased need for services--from roads to police patrols.

In fact, Harpole says 58 percent of all of the calls for service to our police department between the hours of 8-5 actually involve people who don't live in the City of Jonesboro.

"They come in and they graciously help us pay to be a regional city.  At the same time we have to have a lot of the services and a lot of the manpower that we do particularly in the police department and street department because of that additional strain on services," said Harpole.

Harpole says one change having an impact on the city's budget came in 2008.  The adoption and implementation of the Streamlined Sales Tax agreement in Arkansas.  Now, if you buy goods in Jonesboro, but it's delivered or licensed somewhere else--that sales tax follows the goods.

Whereas prior to 2008, if it was purchased in Jonesboro, the sales tax stayed.  Harpole says that proposed half cent sales tax increase can help replenish some of the lost revenue that the city got up until January first 2008.

"The people are still coming, the demand for service is still here, but yet some of the money now goes back to other communities so that has had an impact on the City of Jonesboro's budget," said Harpole.

"If the proposed half cent sales tax increase passes, Harpole expects it to generate around 6 and a half million dollars a year.  Adding the best estimates the city has indicates again, between 40 to 50 percent of that money will be generated by people who don't actually live in the city--rather just visiting.

Early voting for the proposed tax increase special election begins next Tuesday.  Election day is August 10th.

Harpole adds some of the rules changes in terms of local caps when the Streamlined Sales Tax went into place for individuals; however, they remain the same for businesses.  He adds things like automobiles, boats, motor vehicles and manufactured housing are still exempt for individuals.

©2010 KAIT All rights reserved.