Little Rock city manager urges colleagues to relaunch sales tax that expired in late 2021

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City Manager Dean Kumpuris at a meeting of the Little Rock Board of Directors on Tuesday presented his colleagues with the revival of a three-eighth percent (0.375%) sales tax that expired at the end of last year.

While saying he would blame himself “completely”, Kumpuris said “there are issues that we have right now – not doing something new, but taking care of what we have right now. “.

City council should consider whether to adopt its proposal, do it in coordination with another tax being discussed, or do it at a different time, Kumpuris said.

A three-eighth percent sales tax used to fund capital improvements in Little Rock expired at the end of 2021.

In 2011, voters approved the capital improvement sales tax with an expiration date of 10 years along with a permanent five-eighths percent (0.625%) tax.

Last year, city administrators failed to act to renew the three-eighth percent tax amid debates over a new sales tax proposed by Mayor Frank Scott Jr. that would have added 1 percentage point to the city ​​sales tax rate for a net five-eighths percent (0.625%) increase. The proposed tax increase failed in a citywide referendum on September 14.

Kumpuris launched its sales tax proposal as city council members assess renewal of an existing capital improvement mile.

Three factories that funded street and drainage improvements after voters last allowed an extension in a 2012 referendum are set to disappear at the end of this year. Each mill equals the dollar amount of tax levied on every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.

City Manager Bruce Moore is set to hold a referendum Aug. 9 on mileage expansion and bond issuance. The council is expected to file a special election ordinance with the county clerk by the end of May in order to hold the referendum in August.

In response to a question about whether to hold the mileage referendum in the November general election, Moore said on Tuesday he was hesitant. He worried that the city’s message on the bond issue wouldn’t be heard as much because of the other races on the ballot, Moore said.

In remarks to colleagues on Tuesday, Kumpuris suggested that the new sales tax money could be used to buy firefighting equipment, support the Little Rock Zoo to ensure it maintains its accreditation and provide improvements to community centers and parks.

He also suggested investing a few million dollars in community-based policing, among other things.

Ward 6 City Manager Doris Wright wondered aloud whether putting Kumpuris’ proposal on the ballot with the mileage extension might kill the mileage.

City Manager Virgil Miller of Ward 1 referenced unspent federal funds allocated to the city as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act, as well as funds carried over from last year.

“We have funds,” Miller said. “We need to figure out how we want to spend those funds.”

Miller said he was reluctant to take the proposal to voters and argued it was “just too much to digest.”

In response to a question from city manager Antwan Phillips, Kumpuris said he had nothing specific in mind regarding a date for the potential sales tax referendum.

After the meeting, Kumpuris told a reporter that his tax proposal would end after 10 years.

He admitted the timing was bad. Still, Kumpuris said he needs to at least acknowledge that the city isn’t doing a good job of taking care of some things.

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