JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin is speaking out about a proposed increase in the restaurant tax in Jonesboro.
The Advertising and Promotion Commission proposed the one percent increase to make up for funds it will lose by purchasing land for a proposed convention center.
Perrin reached out to A&P Commission Chairman Thom Beasley on Saturday to express his concern about a tax increase.
In the letter, he said "We have more than enough revenue generated under our current hotel tax to service any debt associated with a land purchase for the convention center."
Perrin also said in the letter Jonesboro does not need additional taxes to make the convention center a reality. "If the commission now believes we have to levy additional taxes to make it happen, it is no longer attractive to me."
The entire letter, provided by Perrin to Region 8 News, is below this story.
Region 8 News has been tracking the progress of a proposed convention center from the beginning. To view our past reports on it, click on the following links:
Mayor Perrin's Full Letter to A&P Commission Chair, Thom Beasley (Provided by Perrin to Region 8 News)
Mr. Thom Beasley
Advertising & Promotion Commission
First of all, I would like to thank you and your fellow commissioners for all the time and effort that you so diligently put into serving on the A&P Commission. I know the challenges that you face, and I applaud the passion and commitment that you all bring to the task with which you have been charged to do.
I would like to address the notice of the impending letter being drafted by the commission to the administration in regards to city council's ability to levy a one percent prepared food tax to benefit the A&P. This tax would be in addition to the three percent hotel/motel tax currently being collected for these purposes. While I know that the commission's intentions are noble, I feel it only responsible to notify you early in this process that I cannot support the effort to raise our current A&P tax.
Taxation is an issue that I take very seriously. While we depend on taxes and fees of various sorts to fund the operation of our government, as mayor I feel that it is my fiduciary responsibility to weigh both the expenditure and collection of taxes with an extreme level of scrutiny. We have many challenges and opportunities as a community as we look to our future growth. We must develop a high standard for what we ask our citizens to pay for and how we ask them to pay for it.
It is my belief that taxation should be a last resort after every possible resource has been exhausted; and only then for matters that are consequential to our ability to keep our community vibrant and safe. We should not look to increase taxes on our citizens as a matter of convenience or for issues that are not paramount to our community.
As you know, I am a strong proponent of a new convention center development. My administration has invested countless hours over the past four years working alongside you and others in negotiating a deal that is both feasible and responsible. At no point in these discussions has additional taxation been a consideration for me in this project; and today I have not wavered from that position.
Government, like households, has to charge ourselves with setting priorities and making tough decisions when it comes to how we invest our resources. The truth of the matter is, we have more than enough revenue generated under our current hotel/motel tax to service any debt associated with a land purchase for the convention center, and would still have additional monies left over to invest in limited promotional activities. This scenario was vetted in detail for months as we put our current deal together. The only reason to ask for additional taxation at this point is to keep us from making those tough decisions or setting those priorities; and that does not meet my personal threshold as reasons to increase local taxes.
In my mind, we arrived at a conclusion both as an administration and a commission that this project warranted a high enough priority to demand the majority of our A&P funding until the debt on the land was serviced. After the project opens, it is projected to generate the majority of funds it will take to meet that obligation in and of itself; not to mention the one million dollars per year in general sales tax revenue it is projected to generate. The arrangement we have is a good deal for Jonesboro. We do not need additional taxes to make it happen; and if the commission now believes we have to levy additional taxes to make it happen, it is no longer attractive to me.
I would respectfully ask that the commission reconsider your current request for a one percent tax on prepared food. I hope that you understand my position. I would also like to reiterate that I fully support our current agreement to use the majority of existing A&P funding to make the convention center project a reality. I remain of the belief that it is the highest and best use of those resources; and I hope that you and the commission will continue to be in agreement with me.
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss further; or if you would like for me and representatives of the administration to visit with commission regarding this matter.