HomeArkansas newsPine Bluff rejects sales tax proposals again

Pine Bluff rejects sales tax proposals again

Pine Bluff, Arkansas – The residents of Pine Bluff have, for the second time, voted against two sales tax proposals put forward by the non-profit organization, Go-Forward Pine Bluff. This decision reflects the community’s concerns and skepticism about the organization’s handling of funds and project implementation.

The first proposal from Go-Forward Pine Bluff involved a three-eighth-cent sales tax dedicated to public safety initiatives. The second proposal was a more ambitious five-eighth-cent sales tax aimed at funding projects to make Pine Bluff a more inviting city. These proposals were not new to the residents, as they were also on the ballot during a special election held six months earlier, in May. The repeated rejection signals a deep-rooted issue in the community’s confidence in the organization.

Ryan Watley, CEO of Go-Forward, expressed his disappointment at the outcome, acknowledging that the public’s trust had been shaken. This lack of trust dates back to 2017 when similar initiatives were approved by voters but failed to meet community expectations. Watley emphasized the necessity of these funds for the city’s development, suggesting that the failure to secure them could hinder Pine Bluff’s progress.

Community activist Jihad Muhammad pointed out a significant reason for the public’s distrust: the lack of visible results from Go-Forward’s efforts. According to Muhammad, despite six years of tax collection, the organization has not completed a single building project. This sentiment was echoed in the community’s perception that, although several projects like the go-kart track on East Harding and developments on Sixth and Main Street have begun, there hasn’t been substantial progress. Muhammad stressed that for the vote to change, Go-Forward’s plans must represent the interests and aspirations of all Pine Bluff taxpayers.

Despite the setback, Watley remains optimistic. He stated that Go-Forward is on track to complete the projects they have started by September 2024. He also highlighted that the organization has raised and saved nearly 30 million dollars, even without the additional tax dollars. Watley believes that completing these projects could help restore trust in the organization and demonstrate its commitment to the city’s development.

The repeated rejection of the sales tax proposals in Pine Bluff is a clear indication that the community demands transparency, accountability, and tangible results from development initiatives. It underscores the importance of community involvement and trust in local governance and development projects.

Nathan Kim

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