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LR sales tax increases approved

Submitted by Ricky Harris on September 20, 2011 – 5:03 pmNo Comment

Little Rock voters approved two sales tax increases totaling 1 cent in a special election held Tuesday, Sept. 13, according to the Pulaski County Election Commission.

Fifty-four percent of voters supported the first increase of three-eighths percent, which will last ten years and be used for capital improvements.

The same percentage of voters supported the five-eighths percent increase. This permanent tax will go toward city operational needs, such as additional police officers and firefighters.

Of approximately 112,000 registered voters in the city, around 20 percent (22,284) participated in the election.

In remarks to supporters on Wednesday, Sept. 14, Mayor Mark Stodola said the tax increase will allow the city to go forward with projects such as a new $4 million fire station and $9 million police substation. The city also plans to hire 52 police officers and 36 firefighters. The operating cost of the new jobs will be approximately $9 million per year.  “Last night’s victory was … truly a victory for the city that we love,” Stodola said.

Other projects planned include the building of a bio-tech research park worth approximately $22 million, which created opposition because of the possibility of the city taking land through eminent domain. Stodola said that nothing has been decided, but residents would be compensated wholly if this does occur.

The mayor also said that the largest expenditure includes more than $70 million on street resurfacing and building repairs.  Concerning these repairs, Stodola said, “For us to compete in this economy … we’ve got to invest in jobs.”

Before any of the new projects are confronted, the city will develop an oversight committee of Little Rock residents.

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