With early voting underway and election day less than a week out, it’s time to decide whether to support renewal of the city’s 1-cent sales tax.
The special election is Tuesday, Oct. 11, but early ballots may be cast at the County Clerk’s office between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays leading up to voting day.
To check voter registration status or to find a polling place, visit voterview.org or call 479-444-1711.
The 18-year-old penny sales tax must be renewed by a vote every 10 years. The money – about $15.4 million in Fayetteville’s general and capital improvement funds – goes towards a variety of uses, including city employee payroll, street and sidewalk work, trail construction and payments to outside groups, like the Fayetteville Boys & Girls Club.
The tax was first adopted in 1993 by a vote of 3,675 to 619. The tax was renewed in 2002 by a vote of 2,531 to 789.
Should the extension pass on Oct. 11, it would remain in effect until June 2023.
The tax was last week endorsed by a citizen committee called Vote FOR Fayetteville.
Vote FOR Fayetteville is led by Ward 3 Alderman Justin Tennant and includes representatives of local business and nonprofit groups.
Tennant’s group echoes warnings from city finance director Paul Becker who has said basic city services, including up to 55 police department jobs and 38 fire department jobs would be likely eliminated if the extension is not passed.
“If you love living in Fayetteville, many of the reasons why you love living here are at risk if this renewal doesn’t pass,” said Tennant.
Other organizations that have endorsed extending the sales tax:
Fayetteville Council of Neighborhoods, Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, Fraternal Order of Police, International Association of Firefighters, and the Northwest Arkansas Labor Council.
The Washington County Tea Party yesterday announced its opposition to the extension in a press release sent to local media.
In the release, Tea Party chair Jeff Oland said government talk of job cuts is a scare tactic to frighten people into voting for the tax.
“To threaten people with closing fire stations and cutting police protection first if they don’t keep paying this tax is dishonest,” said Oland. “Cutting spending in other areas never seems to be an option,” he said.
Oland also said people don’t come here because of things like Fayetteville’s expanding trail system. “People choose to live and shop and do business where taxes are lower,” he said. “Keep the taxes high, and the people paying the taxes will eventually leave.”