JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The group Team Jonesboro announced their plans Monday to make Jonesboro a safer and stronger community, asking for a sales tax increase to fund projects around the city.
In a news release, the organization said the plan is a set of ordinances to help fund the Team Jonesboro Initiative.
“There is something that is long overdue in Jonesboro,” committee chair Scott McDaniel said. “If we are going to keep our brightest minds and local talent here, we must provide public safety and make real tangible investments in quality of life in Jonesboro.”
One of the ordinances proposed would put a 1% sales tax before voters of Jonesboro that would help fund investments in public safety along with constructing amenities for the public such as parks, aquatics centers, a shooting sports complex, arts and entertainment venues, museums, sidewalks, trails system, and other projects.
The group states that the sales tax rate in Jonesboro is among the lowest in the state. They go on to say the proposed tax would sunset in 12 years and raise an estimated $18 million a year to be divided equally between public safety and quality of life amenities.
The Jonesboro fire chief said currently, first responders are struggling to keep up with Jonesboro’s growth.
“We’ve been trying to chip away at it slowly throughout the years, adding additional personnel and upgrading facilities through the years, but its been a very slow process,” Fire Chief Kevin Miller said. “Unfortunately the pace that we’re trying to chip away at it is not keeping up with the growth that we’re experiencing.”
A second ordinance submitted would create an “Integrity Oversight Council” that would ensure funds collected by the tax and the quality of life infrastructure would be accounted for and spend on projects that meet the requirements outlined by the initiative.
The group said if that ordinance is approved, the Integrity Oversight Council would hold regular public meetings to develop long term plans, vet potential projects, recommend funding levels for projects, and publish financial accounting reports publicly.
The news released said that the recommendations from the committee will be presented to the Jonesboro Finance and Administration Committee and the Jonesboro City Council for review and approval.
The group said if the Jonesboro City Council passes an ordinance for a vote on a sales tax increase, it would likely go before voters on September 10, 2019.
They went on to say if the sales tax increase is passed on that date, then collection for the tax would be in the first quarter of 2020. The group said it would also qualify the city to begin construction on projects through a combination of local bank loans, pay as you go, and potential bond funding.
According to Team Jonesboro’s website, the group is a grassroots effort that is focused on improving the standards in quality of life in Jonesboro, while at the same time making sure first reponders are equipped with resources to keep families in Jonesboro safe.