The five-eighths cent Go Forward Pine Bluff sales tax will begin collections on Oct. 1, with the money becoming available to spend on projects on Jan. 1, 2018. Ryan Watley, CEO of Go Forward, said in a news release that “Go Forward Pine Bluff, Inc. is excited citizens have remained engaged post the overwhelming passing of the five-eighths cent sales tax necessary to fund the proposed initiatives. Subsequently, we have begun transitioning to the execution phase. This involves a great deal of internal development; however, we remain committed to transparency and public relations.”


The news release continued:


“We estimate the first quarterly receipt will be $1.1 million with approximate monthly receipts of $365,000, totaling of 4.4 million annually. A new city fund and bank account will be established for GFPB sales tax receipts and appropriation of those funds will be requested by GFPB leadership and approved by the City Council for each initiative. Donations through the GFPB corporation are more difficult to project. However, we expect to receive approximately $1 million per year.”


Watley said in the news release that the flow of resources may be accelerated or slowed depending on the project in which dollars are pledged.


“An accelerated example is the naming rights opportunity relative to the proposed Downtown Square,” the news release said. “This will play an integral part in the effort to make downtown a place of destination. Grant funded initiatives are subject to the submission, review, and award period and will therefore occur at a much slower rate. As a matter of fact, GFPB partnered with Economic and Community Development to submit a proposal to the Delta Regional Authority on July 5, and are now awaiting the review.


“All together, we will execute capital-intensive projects as dollars are available. GFPB Inc. has currently contracted with the University of Arkansas Community Design Center to develop the Vision for Downtown Pine Bluff. Mayor Washington, GFPB leadership, and consultants from the Arkansas Economic Development Institute attended a day’s planning session at the Community Design P. O. Box 6316, Pine Bluff, AR, 71611-6316 870-541-1196 Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


“A majority of the day was spent evaluating computer-generated models of Pine Bluff and discussed numerous thoughts, hopes, wishes, and dreams about our community. While the Community Design Center will not begin dedicated work until October, they will be touring the city and actively listening to citizens. As promised during the campaign, GFPB will sponsor citizens meetings from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on August 8-10 at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.


“We remain committed to providing quarterly progress reports via the Pine Bluff Commercial beginning in January, and will provide significant updates on our website and social media. We want to once again thank our citizens for providing an overwhelming YES vote relative to our tax initiative and for the ‘Citizens Plan.’”