Arguments - pro and con - regarding Little Rock's sales tax proposal 

Vote yes for tax increase

After reading Kathy Wells' letter in your paper asking voters in Little Rock to vote against the proposed sales tax increase on the ballot Sept. 13, I felt compelled to write a letter of my own describing why Little Rock voters should vote for the tax.

First, of the 50 most populated cities in the state, the City of Little Rock has the lowest sales tax with the highest population of citizens to serve. Let me repeat that: Little Rock has the lowest sales tax in the state with the highest population of citizens to serve. In addition, city officials have stated over and over again that next year the city will go into its budget cycle at least $8 million in the hole. That means that this isn't even a discussion about whether or not to keep things as they are or make them better — it's a question whether or not to make them worse or make them better. I vote for better!

Ms. Wells seems to think that "impact fees" charged to those of us who live in West Little Rock will solve all the problems of the city. This solution is incredibly naive. First, charging impact fees to developers in West Little Rock wouldn't even come close to collecting the amount of revenue needed to fund projects that benefit the entire city. Projects like purchasing a new communications tower for 911, buying new fire trucks and fixing our streets benefit all sections of the city, not just West Little Rock.

The truth of the matter is that the upcoming one-cent sales tax proposal is necessary and provides benefits to all citizens of Little Rock. I was absolutely horrified to learn that our 911 communication tower is so antiquated that our city can't even purchase the parts to fix the tower properly and has to call engineers out of retirement to come and help repair the thing. It was equally horrifying to me when I learned that the only ladder truck our fire department has is one from 1976!

As a park lover I've watched the last few years as our parks become more and more dilapidated. As a volunteer and supporter of the zoo, one of the largest tourist attractions in our city, I worry that continued cuts will cause our zoo to lose accreditation and backtrack from all the progress it's made in the last few years. Remember, the question before us is not to keep things as they are or improve them — it's a vote for regression or progression. I say vote for progress.

And speaking of progress, Little Rock will never be able to attract the kind of job-creating businesses it wants to attract if it doesn't have funds for economic development. The Panama Canal will double in size in 2014 meaning that more and more shipping will come up through the Gulf Coast. Little Rock is in a unique situation to attract additional businesses to our port but not if we don't have port land available and ready for businesses to operate.

In addition, one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. economy is medical technology. The creation of a technology park where universities and businesses can collaborate and innovate could mean the creation of thousands of new jobs. Other cities in Arkansas are putting revenue aside for economic development and if our city doesn't we will lose jobs, not create them.

Little Rock deserves better and we can get better if we vote for the tax increase on Sept. 13.

Jennifer Owens
Little Rock

No new taxes in Little Rock

When Little Rock fairly distributes its resources from Chenal to Granite Mountain or the refurbishing of downtown looks closer to completion, I could consider raising taxes. When the I-630/430 interchange is completed, I might never use it, but when previous government projects across this city have been successful, I might think about paying higher taxes. When the I-440 (Airport) Exit 2 to 3M begins and major streets east of University and south of I-630 have sidewalks and covered sewers, I will be encouraged. The river port was here well before people started strolling across the river on the two bridges or the trolley needed redesigning. Jobs moved away from east Little Rock causing higher cost to commute to them than is practical and reducing payroll tax revenues. These eager minds, the common denominator in decision-making, should consider changing something and it is not the taxes. I am talking about the recycling of abandoned manufacturing buildings the length of Roosevelt Road and particularly near the airport. This city, instead of planning any commercial upgrade at Roosevelt Road, watched as Bank of America plans to leave and the Kroger Co. allows one of its longest standing facilities in Arkansas to self-implode. Why should we pay more taxes on food there? Ask not what increased tax dollars will do for you, but what your city has done with your tax dollars.

Gloria E. Springer
Little Rock

Atheism in Arkansas

Thank you so much for your wonderful article on atheism in Arkansas. We make no apologies for our being smart, well-read, well-educated, rational, thinking human beings. Contrary to religious myth, we are productive, well-adjusted, happy, ethical individuals and, I'm sure, appreciative of your letting the world know we exist in Arkansas (and in greater numbers than most people suspect). We serve neither gods nor demons. We don't hate entities not proven to exist, which would be irrational. We stand in awe of those who doubted through the ages; in fact, we stand on their shoulders as a society and as a species. Besides, we gave up sacrificing babies, puppies and kittens weeks ago.

Linda Farrell
Bella Vista

This morning I read a letter in the Democrat-Gazette suggesting a "nonreligious page" to counter the religion page. Fine idea.

Then I pick up the Arkansas Times, and your cover article discusses atheism. The tide seems to be shifting. If anyone asks me who the guests at my fantasy dinner party would be, I'd pick Jesus and Christopher Hitchens. Now THAT would make for some interesting dinner conversation. 

Mary Waters
Little Rock

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