Integrity Council to oversee potential sales tax increase to be formed in Jonesboro

by George Jared (gjared@talkbusiness.net) 145 views 

Jonesboro’s City Council has approved a special election to consider a 1-cent sales tax for special projects in the city and it’s seeking candidates for the Oversight Integrity Council that will be charged with studying and proposing those projects.

Mayor Harold Perrin said applications to join the nine-person committee will be accepted from Jonesboro residents 18 and older until July 19. Interested residents may apply online at Jonesboro.org. Click on “Board/Commission application.”

The mayor wants the Integrity Council to comprise a diverse cross-section of the community. Per the ordinance, three of the positions will be held by two city council members and the A&P Commission chairman.

“This will require a lot of work, because this will be the panel that will present major projects to our City Council that will be precious to Jonesboro for years to come,” he said. “Even then, their proposals will have to be approved by the City Council. No one should apply for one of these positions who underestimates the work it will require.”

Jonesboro’s current sales tax is 8.5%. Voters will determine whether to add the 1-cent increase on Sept. 10. Perrin said he hopes the city council will approve the panel by its Aug. 6 meeting so that it can start meeting Aug. 7 in preparation for the ballot initiative.

According to the ordinance passed by the City Council, the Integrity Council would “identify, research, investigate, review and prioritize potential future capital improvements of a public nature with the City … ”

If approved, half of the new sales tax receipts would be dedicated to “operations, maintenance and staffing of capital improvements” in city police and fire departments.

The other half-cent would fund “acquisition, construction, repair, equipping, and improving capital improvements of a public nature for the arts, aquatics, beautification, libraries, museums, park facilities, recreational facilities, sidewalks and trail systems, and for operation, maintenance and staffing of such improvements,” according to the ordinance.

The sales tax is expected to raise approximately $18 million annually. Team Jonesboro, a local grass-roots organization, has been pushing for the measures.

The ordinance mentions “arts, aquatics, beautification, libraries, museums, park facilities, recreational facilities, sidewalks and trail systems” and the staffing and maintenance of those facilities.

Team Jonesboro leaders have said that quality of life amenities are needed in Jonesboro to stop the “brain drain” of recent college graduates and young professionals who relocate to other cities, particularly those in Northwest Arkansas.

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