The date of a special election in Jonesboro is quickly approaching, with supporters of the proposal making their case to a local civic club. Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin and attorney Robert Jones spoke to the Jonesboro Kiwanis Club about the proposal.
Jonesboro voters head to the polls Nov. 10 to decide the fate of a one-cent sales tax. Under the proposal, seven-eighths of the revenues of the tax will go toward existing roads, bridges and overpasses while one-eighth will go toward economic development. The tax, which would be in effect through July 2026, is expected to bring in at least $16 million a year.
Under the proposal, Jonesboro’s combined state, county and local sales tax would be 9.5 cents.
The mayor said the growth in Jonesboro in recent years has far outstripped the city’s infrastructure. Perrin said the city’s one-cent sales tax brings in about $16 million a year. There are at least 20 road projects that would be completed, if voters approve the tax. Perrin said city officials have worked at least two years to complete a list, based on safety and traffic patterns. He gave an overview of the projects under consideration, which may also be viewed at the city’s website.
One of the projects, U.S. 49 and Arkansas 351, could cost between $30 and $40 million and would be funded through state and local funding. Perrin said the decision on the project, seeking to reroute Arkansas 351 because of increases in accidents, would be made by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department. Also, a large portion of the projects will be funded through state and local funding, Perrin said.
Another project, an overpass across Nettleton Avenue and Highland Drive, would cost between $12 and $15 million while an overpass at Airport Road would cost $6.2 million, Perrin said. An overpass across a railroad on Dan Avenue would cost $34.5 million, Perrin said, noting the overpass would also help with safety.
Jones said the issue boils down to one thing “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.” Under the proposal, the tax would be used to create an economic development corporation in Jonesboro. The corporation would be run by a seven-member board appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the Jonesboro City Council.
Jones said the corporation would work to attract businesses, buying land for sites and helping to develop strategies for workforce training and incentives. There are several towns and counties in Northeast Arkansas, like Mississippi County, Newport, Paragould and West Memphis with similar programs in place, Jones said.
Jones said the corporation will give Jonesboro an opportunity to sell itself to the region and nation, for companies interested in locating in Jonesboro.
Early voting will run from Nov. 3 through Nov. 9 at the Craighead County Election Annex. The Craighead County Election Commission will meet at noon Thursday (Oct. 22) at the annex to set polling places and early voting hours for the special election.
KASU News Director Johnathan Reaves contributed to this report.