Fayetteville voters approve 1-cent sales tax renewal

Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan (left) waits for results of the city’s special election inside the Washington County Courthouse. / Staff photo

Fayetteville voters on Tuesday approved another 10-year renewal of the city’s 1-cent sales tax in a special election.

The measure passed with 1,079 votes in favor (78%) and 307 against (22%), according to final, unofficial results released by the Washington County Election Commission.

The tax was set to last through 2023, but city staff prefer to get a decision from voters well before the expiration date in the event that a renewal is rejected.

NWA City Sales Tax Rates

1%Avoca, Decatur, Elm Springs, Little Flock, Pea Ridge, Springtown, Sulphur Springs
2%Bella Vista, Bentonville, Centerton, Farmington, Fayetteville, Gentry, Goshen, Gravette, Highfill, Johnson, Lowell, Rogers, Siloam Springs, Springdale
2.25%Cave Springs
2.75%Elkins, Prairie Grove, Tontitown
3%Greenland, Lincoln, West Fork

Source: Arkansas Dept. of Finance & Admin (June 2021)

Mayor Lioneld Jordan said before the election it would be difficult to figure out how the city could operate if the tax is not renewed.

“I don’t think I can express enough how critical it is that everybody rows in the same direction here,” Jordan said.

After the results were announced, Jordan said he was relieved, but not all that surprised.

“These elections are always a little stressful,” he said. “But I did feel like we’d win it, because the people of this city really believe in what we’re doing.”

The tax, which was first enacted in 1993 with 86% approval from voters, has now been renewed three times. It generates about $22.5 million each year, and is split 60-40 between general fund operations ($13.5 million) and sales tax capital improvements ($9 million). That equates to about 27% of overall general operations revenue and 100% of the capital improvements program.

City officials said the 1-cent tax helps pay for about $11 million in salaries, or about 150 jobs. About 81 of those positions are in the public safety sector including police and fire jobs.

Jordan said although he was banking on the renewal passing, he was pleased to see such a high percentage of votes in favor.

“It really enforces what you know about this city and what you believe about the people of this city,” said Jordan. “So I’m just thrilled.”

Fayetteville collects a total of 2% in sales and use tax. Voters continued the other penny tax in an April 2019 special election.