Issue 1, Transportation Sales Tax Continuation Amendment, is on the November 3 ballot. Issue 1 would amend the state constitution to make permanent a 0.5% sales tax, authorized by Issue 1 of 2012, with revenue directed to state and local transportation, including highways, roads, and bridges. The sales tax was temporarily authorized by voters in 2012 and is set to expire in 2023.
The sales tax would not be applied to food or food ingredients.
The Department of Finance and Administration estimated that the 0.5% sales tax authorized by the amendment would generate $293.7 million in revenue based on 12 months of collections. It would be allocated in the following ways:
- 70% ($205.59 million) to state highways,
- 15% ($44.055 million) to county transportation, and
- 15% ($44.055 million) to city transportation.
“Discuss this issue with each other—it is essential that city officials and staff understand the cost of losing the half-cent sales tax if the deadline goes forward without a permanent solution. By educating yourself and those who represent your city or town, you will be able to engage in a dialogue with your community and educate voters about the impact this vital issue will have on them and the place they call home.”—Mark R. Hayes, Executive Director, Arkansas Municipal League
In our local area, the sales tax generates ~$235,000 per year mainly used to repave local streets. Mayor Steve Montgomery noted that, “This year the City is paving blocks of E. 4th Street, McFerron St, Hickory Street, S. Grady, S. Cedar, Berry St., and W. Avenue A, primarily with funding from this sales tax. This City has also been able to provide the local share of funding for the upcoming W. 6th St. project, which should be bid out this winter.”
The sales tax does not only benefit City streets, but also County Roads. According to the ArDOT, Hempstead County receives $488,000 per year from the sales tax. Judge Crane, focusing on the importance of the 0.5% sales tax to county rounds, said that, “it would not be possible to maintain more than 700 miles of county roads without this sales tax. This is not a new tax; citizens have been paying it for the last seven years.”
Friday, October 9, 2020, the Hempstead County Economic Development Corporation passed a resolution in support of Issue 1. HCEDC President Steve Harris emphasized, “The continuation of the 1/2 cent sales tax for transportation infrastructure is essential for the economic development of our state and Southwest Arkansas.”
Later this month, the City of Hope of Directors will consider Resolution 2020-03 in support of Issue 1. A complete information sheet on Issue 1 and other ballot issues is available at www.uaex.edu/ballot. Early voting for the November 3 election begins October 19 at the Hempstead County Courthouse. Absentee ballots are also available upon request from the Hempstead County Clerk.