Voters Will Control Fate of Jonesboro Convention Center

April 19, 2006 – Posted at 6:10 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- After months of preparation by Jonesboro's mayor and numerous city officials, the city council approved a special election for a sales tax to fund the proposed convention center Tuesday night. However, it is not without controversy.

On June 13th, it will be in the hands of voters to decide the fate of the proposed Jonesboro Convention Center. That's when residents will be asked to approve a temporary 1% city sales tax to pay for the convention center, along with a new centralized fire station.

The tax would expire after 24 months or after $21 million dollars had been collected. After city council members failed to endorse the proposal Tuesday night, convention center finance planning committee head Wallace Fowler suggested shelving the project.

By Wednesday, emotions had calmed.

"I'm still interested," said Fowler, "I'm going to do anything that I can do to fulfill a many a year dream that I've had in getting a convention center in Jonesboro."

"The convention center is needed for the city of Jonesboro as well as fire stations and other facilities as well. It's the city council's job to give the citizens an opportunity to vote," said council member Tim McCall.

Councilman John Street believes high gas prices and economic conditions could play heavy on voters. While he is not opposed to the convention center, he thinks there are more important things to worry about.

"We've got some building needs that the city has, so I mean, we can't just keep tapping tax payers for all this money for a long period of time," said Street.

"We're going to be working hard over the next few weeks to get this passed, it's going to be a hard battle, but I think we can do it. And if anyone has any questions, don't hesitate to call us," said Mayor Doug Formon.

John Q. Hammons announced last July that he would build a 9-story, 220-room hotel on 14 acres located at Race Street and Fair Park Boulevard, but only if the city of Jonesboro approved a convention center plan