Main Street organizations concerned about losing funding with bill

Main Street organizations concerned about losing funding with bill
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A bill in the Arkansas Legislature this session has some Main Street Organizations worried.

House Bill 2047 would change the way funds collected from taxes on deeds, instruments, and writings are distributed.

Right now, after 3% of those funds are used for the Constitutional Officers Fund and the State Central Services Fund, 80% of the net revenue goes to the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resource Grants and Trust Fund.

According to the bill, that fund helps with management of state-owned lands and preservation of historic sites, buildings, and structures.

That includes work done by the Main Street Arkansas organizations across the state.

The proposed bill would take 20% of that funding away and move it to the Arkansas Housing Trust Fund.

Ninety percent of that amount would be used for grants, loans, loan guarantees and loan subsidies for eligible applicants as outlined in an Arkansas Code.

The other 10% is specifically designated for "providing adequate, safe, and affordable housing for veterans."

Hailey Knight, the director of the Downtown Jonesboro Association, said the funding they receive from the state is very important.

"We've been able to use those funds for our downtown façade grant program, which actually administers grant funding to our local business owners to rehab their façades, place new awnings, even new signage; so it's been a huge tool for us to help recruit businesses down here," Knight said.

She said the state dollars have also helped fund their public art initiative, Fearlessly Brilliant.

"So to lose something like this would be detrimental to a lot of programs around the state and historic places," Knight said.

Main Street Batesville also came out against the bill Thursday.

They posted on their Facebook page asking their citizens to urge lawmakers to vote against the bill.

"The people of this community have fought hard and sacrificed greatly to ensure our downtown, our history, was saved," the post stated. "We ask you to help us fight for our town and our heritage once more."

The bill was filed on Monday and has been referred to the House Committee on Insurance and Commerce.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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