JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Voters in Jonesboro have rejected a proposed one-percent sales tax increase.
Unofficial voting totals shows 4,805 voted for the increase, while 5,016 voted against the increase.
The citizen-led group Team Jonesboro proposed the increase back in May. It’s been hotly talked about at city council meetings, public forums and on a debate with KLEK 102.5 FM. The proposal even sparked a heated conversations on social media.
The 1% increase would have been used to fund public safety projects along with other quality of life amenities.
Team Jonesboro estimated the tax would bring in an additional $18M every year. The tax would sunset in 12 years.
The group also proposed numerous quality of life projects including more bike trails, sidewalks, outdoor entertainment venue and an aquatic center - which would be separate from a privately-owned water park.
For public safety, Team Jonesboro pitched several items including new police substation, fire station, additional staff for both the police and fire departments and equipment upgrades.
Team Jonesboro posted on Facebook after the results came in that they are disappointed with the outcome, but the journey was not over.
“Naturally I’m disappointed, but one thing you can look at is those numbers are very close," Scott McDaniel with Team Jonesboro said. "This was not a wholesale rejection of what we’re up to. It’s not wholesale rejection of quality of life. It’s not a wholesale rejection of sales tax. This is nothing more than a very tight race.”
McDainel said Team Jonesboro was proud of the campaign they ran and now they are going to decide how to now move forward.
"“What we’re going to do is huddle back up and take a look at the numbers. See what they mean and decide how to move forward after that,” McDaniel said.
The proposal faced opposition. Citizens Taxed Enough quickly formed to oppose the sales tax increase.
The group said they support a sales tax increase to benefit both the police and fire departments but doesn’t support additional tax money to go toward amenities.
“Well it’s very surprising because they had us outspent a whole bunch,” Iris Stephens, member of Citizens Taxed Enough said. “I have to admit I’m very surprised. I think it shows in Jonesboro how strongly we support our police and fire and how we definitely want to make sure that when we raise our taxes it goes to our necessities four our police and fire department.”
During a radio debate, Stephens said the amenities - like sidewalks, trails, parks and aquatics center, are a “want” and not a “need” for the city of Jonesboro.
Jonesboro City Alderman Bobby Long was also a vocal opponent of Team Jonesboro’s initiative.
He announced he would propose a separate sales if Team Jonesboro’s initiative failed. The increase would need to be approved by voters at the next election. It would provide a .25% increase to help fund police and fire in the city.