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During a meeting to discuss a proposed sales tax increase in Sherwood, Mayor Virginia Hillman Young asked how many people shop at the grocery just across the Sherwood-North Little Rock boundary.

Most of the 20-25 folks in the Sylvan Hills First Baptist Church auditorium Thursday morning raised their hands.

Sherwood early voting

Early voting for the June 19 Sherwood tax election begins Tuesday. Residents can vote early at the following sites and dates:

Jack Evans Senior Citizens Center, 2301 Thornhill Drive, Sherwood. Early voting takes place Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Pulaski County Regional Building, 501 W. Markham St., Little Rock. Early voting takes place on weekdays from Tuesday through June 18 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"I know North Little Rock appreciates it," Young said with a smile.

The mayor's point was that many of her city's residents cross over to shop in a neighboring city, where North Little Rock's sales tax is 2 percent, twice that of Sherwood's. There are North Little Rock shoppers, too, she said, who go into Sherwood to shop, paying Sherwood's 1 percent tax instead.

A June 19 special election has been set to decide on a proposed 1 percentage-point increase to Sherwood's city sales tax.

"We have the lowest sales tax of any municipality in Pulaski County," Young said, referring to a tax chart on a video screen behind her that listed not only Pulaski County cities, but others charging higher amounts within central Arkansas. "We feel like this [election] is putting us on level ground."

Early voting in the tax election will be 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday at the Jack Evans Senior Citizens Center, 2301 Thornhill Drive, the only site inside Sherwood to vote before election day. State primary election runoffs are also June 19.

Sherwood voters will be asked to cast their ballots for two separate tax questions. If both are approved, the 1 percentage point total increase would raise the sales tax charged consumers to 9.5 percent. The total tax includes Sherwood's current 1 percent city sales tax, the state's 6.5 percent tax and a 1 percent Pulaski County tax.

The two ballot issues are:

• A one-quarter percent permanent sales tax that is projected to raise $1.25 million annually for the city's general fund used for operations and city services. An additional fire station, street maintenance and renovating the former city library are identified by election literature as immediate needs this tax would address.

• A three-quarter percent sales tax that will be used to support $38.5 million in bond issues for improved traffic flow throughout the city and relief to major flood zones. This tax will cease to be collected once the bond debt is paid, projected to be in 10-13 years.

Four projects are identified for the three-quarter percent tax to address as priorities: A Maryland Avenue connection and improvements; a Jacksonville Cato Street improvement; a Brockington Road (formerly Brookswood Road) to Lantrip Road improvement and extension, referred to as the Kohl's Extension; and improvements to Country Club Road.

Eleven other street projects are listed as possibilities, depending on their costs and the amount of revenue the new tax produces, said Sherwood City Council member Kevin Lilly, who also heads the city's Street Committee. Project descriptions, maps and other details about the tax election are available on the Move Sherwood Forward page on Facebook.

The improvements would help "east-west and north-south traffic move easily around in Sherwood," Lilly said at morning and evening meetings Thursday. Both sessions drew about 20 people, plus a few council members and staff members.

"There are a lot of needs," Lilly said, explaining why the tax increase is sought. "We are just not financially capable of addressing them at this point."

Aside from the first four projects listed, no others have been engineered for design or costs, Lilly said. The four priority projects are the only ones that are known to be fully funded, he said.

Unlike similar meetings in North Little Rock and Maumelle, both of which passed sales tax increases in the past 10 months, the citywide presentations in Sherwood on Thursday didn't draw vocal opposition, mainly only general questions. No organized opposition has been identified, Young said.

A few attending Thursday's evening meeting said they arrived opposed but became supporters after hearing the presentation. Details comparing Sherwood's city tax with other cities and listing specific projects helped gain support, a few attendees said during a question-and-answer period.

"I was probably against it when it came up," Linza Whisnant said afterward. "The presentation really described things that need to be done that I can see. It pretty much put me on the positive side."

"I was probably against it, but I'll vote for it now because of this new information," Bruce Dabbs said. "They clearly identified projects that all of the city, I think, would agree on as being needed."

Young, who has also made election presentations at seven previous ward and civic meetings, said getting those details to as many potential voters in person as possible as been the campaign's biggest goal.

"Our purpose is to give you the correct information," Young told Thursday's groups. "We want our residents to be informed. And as we heard tonight, some said 'We weren't for it,' but they were after hearing the information given here."

Metro on 06/10/2018

Print Headline: Sherwood seeks level tax field

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  • RBBrittain
    June 10, 2018 at 8:36 p.m.

    All the groceries Sherwood residents buy in NLR (spelled K-R-O-G-E-R) may justify raising the local sales tax rate to match NLR (and Jacksonville where I live), but that raise won't solve the problem; more & better grocery stores in Sherwood will.