The cities of Wabbaseka and Redfield are asking residents to vote for one-percent sales tax increases in the upcoming Nov. 6 election to fund city services.
Wabbaseka needs money to tear down blighted buildings and purchase maintenance equipment such as mowing machines and a trackhoe, Mayor Myra Edwards said.
The tax would pay for general improvements, “correcting some things around town, fixing up things around town,” Edwards said. “One of the big issues we’re having is taking down old buildings, and not having the money in the coffers to take care of it.”
Wabbaseka had a population of 255 according to the 2010 U.S. Census. A July 1, 2017, estimate by the Census Bureau put the population at 228.
Redfield faces the opposite challenge of providing services for a growing city, including water, sewer and roads, said Mayor Harmon Carter. The tax revenue would also contribute to the city’s reserve fund, Carter said.
Redfield had a population of 1,297 according to the 2010 Census, but that number has grown, Carter said. City officials have counted 129 new addresses within the last five years. A July 1, 2017, population estimate by the Census Bureau lists Redfield’s population as 1,540. The last sales tax increase in Redfield was about 30 years ago, Carter said.
“I think it’s just to keep up with the times,” Carter said. “There’s going to be more housing in this area. We need to be able to keep up.”
Carter attributes Redfield’s growth to its convenient location roughly halfway between Little Rock and Pine Bluff, and to a boom in construction in northern Jefferson County. Many residents travel for work, he said.
He estimated the tax could raise $100,000 to $150,000 annually, and possibly more depending on how the economy performs.
“The aldermen wanted to try [the tax], so we’ll try it,” Carter said. “I’ve been talking to a lot of [residents]… I’ve never heard any negativity about it, it’s all been positive.”
Neither tax has a sunset clause, meaning that if they are passed, the taxes would be collected every year unless a separate ballot measure is filed to repeal them.