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Pine Bluff community to vote on sales tax

For the second time in less than a year, voters in Pine Bluff will weigh in on a set of proposed sale taxes after it was voted down back in May.

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — Emotions were running high in the community of Pine Bluff as voters prepared to head back to the polls for a second time this year to vote on two sales tax initiatives. 

Two prominent organizations in Pine Bluff debated on whether or not these two initiatives should pass or fail. 

"This is a regressive tax. It's going to hurt and harm low to moderate-income individuals and it's going to increase the wealth of those that already have money," President of Pine Bluff NAACP, explained.

"This sales tax actually helps us fund these projects that we need to continue to help these projects appear here in the community," Olandera Dunn, Public Relations Director for Go Forward Pine Bluff said. 

The first sales tax is focused on public safety, while the other tackles education and economic development. Both failed in May and back in 2017, voters passed the five-eighth cent sales tax for the incentive which focused on education and economic development.

Go Forward Pine Bluff, a group that aims to increase the revenues of the city government, said the tax allowed them to complete big projects over the past six years.

Dunn explained how their organization needs more money to complete projects like on Sixth and Main but Whitfield said taxpayers should not have to fund an organization that doesn't carry out the community's wishes.

"This is really important, especially, you know, being a native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas to be able to see these projects and initiatives that are actually helping the community grow and go," Dunn said. 

"It is just unwise to put this tax back on the ballot without clearing up what has happened with the first 30 million we feel that is unfair," Whitfield said. 

Whitfield explained that they are also meeting with a legal consultant to determine if putting this initiative on the ballot for a second time in a six-month time span is ethical. 

"We may have to go get an attorney's general opinion just because the law says it cannot, once it's voted down should not come back up for a year we hope that that's true, then we won't have to fight this battle," Whitfield said. 

Dunn said if the proposal fails for a second time Go Forward Pine Bluff will have to figure out what's next for their organization in the city.

"We're really focused on the progress that's happening right now and the projects that we have started, so our focus is completing those projects and making sure that we are completing the promises that has been made thus far but if the tax does not pass, we will go back to the 501 C three committee and have further conversation for what the future holds," he added.

The special election is set for Tuesday, November 14th.


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