211 votes are all that separated those who wanted a one-percent sales tax increase in Jonesboro and those who did not. The sales tax proposal, pushed by Team Jonesboro, would have been split in half. One half of the one percent would have gone toward police and fire department future funding, and other half would have gone toward projects deemed “quality of life” needs; those include bike and pedestrian trails, museums, an amphitheater for outdoor events, an aquatic park, and more. The proposal failed 5,016 to 4.805 votes.
“Obviously we are disappointed,” said Brian Richardson with Team Jonesboro. “We are appreciative of those who worked on the campaign and we are not going to give up on this movement. We are parents and neighbors who want to see better things for our children and our children’s children.”
There had been discussion at one point of separating the initiative and having citizens vote on the issues separately. Team Jonesboro did not go for that proposal, saying the issues would remain as one. Iris Stephens with Citizens Taxed Enough, said a proposal for just police and fire would have passed “2 to 1”. She said this initiative was confusing because voters did not know for sure what they were voting for.
“When you voted, you didn’t know what you were voting for,” said Stephens. “All you were doing was giving the city $200 million but there were no projects selected yet. Most people want a more manageable number of projects. We need to take care of our police and fire departments.”
Stephens hinted a permanent tax dedicated to just police and fire could come before voters by the May primary. As for the other projects, Richardson says he is not sure where funding would come from for the quality of life projects. He says there will be discussions about what to do next to move forward in the process.
Early voting and absentee numbers usually tell the story in an election. Here, the numbers showed it was going to be extremely close. Early and absentee numbers had 3,225 voting against the tax, while 3,109 voted for the tax. Those voting for the tax never led, and the numbers widened a little as boxes came in through the night. After the last box from Nettleton Baptist Church was tabulated, the election ended. There is not expected to be a recount. The numbers are unofficial and will be certified in 10 days.