Meetings set to educate voters on sales tax extension on highways

Meetings set to educate voters on sales tax extension on highways
A series of meetings will be held around the state of Arkansas to discuss Issue One. The proposal on the Nov. 2020 ballot would extend the current half-cent sales tax on highways in the state. (Source: KATV-TV)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT/KATV) - A proposal on the Nov. 2020 general election ballot will seek to extend a half-cent sales tax for roads and highways in Arkansas, with a state highway official saying the plan will help address needed concerns.

According to a report from content provider KATV, Issue One would extend the sales tax, which is set to expire in 2023.

ArDOT spokesman Danny Straessle told KATV that Arkansas has the 12th largest highway system in the country, with over 16,000 miles of roads that the department is responsible for.

KATV reported that ArDOT takes in nearly $300 million through the tax increase, with Straessle saying, “It will continue to provide the DOT with at least $205 million dollars annually.”

The money helps take care of highways and capital improvement projects, officials said, noting it also goes to heavily traveled highway projects.

Straessle said highway officials try to be as judicious as possible in deciding where funding for projects go.

“It’s hard to justify going in there and spending tens of millions of dollars to tear up a two-lane highway and resurface it and paint it and make it the best-looking two-lane highway in the state when only 10-25 people are using it,” Straessle told KATV.

Meetings Set

About a third of the revenue - nearly $100 million - goes to counties and cities around the state.

ArDOT is hosting at least a dozen meetings over the next few months to discuss the highway issue.

Straessle said the goal is to provide voters with information.

“We are setting out to educate and inform the citizenry of what does this $300 million get you, what does the $205 million dollars get you. If you step up to vote for this, what are you getting for the money,” Straessle said.

The meetings in Region 8 include:

* Jan. 23 - The Academies of West Memphis Performing Arts Center, 501 West Broadway, West Memphis.

* March 12 - UACCB Independence Hall in Batesville.

* March 31 - First National Bank Arena auditorium, 217 Olympic Drive, in Jonesboro.

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