JONESBORO, Ark. – Would you pay a little more to see Jonesboro get a lot better?
A private group called “Team Jonesboro” is hoping the community answers ‘yes’ to this question, as they plan to attend Tuesday’s city council meeting. The group will ask council members to give the issue to the voters to decide – a one-percent sales tax to help pay for public safety and recreational projects. The meeting starts at 5:30 PM but group organizers are asking supporters to gather at 5 PM to make their presence known.
“Many cities near Jonesboro have made significant investments in parks, aquatics centers and a variety of other public amenities, yet Jonesboro has lagged behind,” a press release from the group said.
The one-percent tax would expire after 12 years. Estimates are that it would raise over $200 million. Half of the proceeds would be dedicated to police and fire departments while the other half would go to quality-of-life projects.
And yes, that would mean a water park and aquatics center.
The group sent a press release to NEA Report detailing all of the quality of life projects that will be outlined Tuesday: a first class water park and aquatics center, an extensive investment in local green spaces and trail systems, construction of new city parks and revamping of existing parks, a gun range and youth shooting sport complex, community pools and more funding for local art and entertainment venues. Additional project areas will include more dog parks, pocket parks and a senior center. Among the new ideas touted by the initiative will be regional attractions including a children’s museum and discovery facility, an outdoor amphitheater and multi-sports complex.
The group, chaired by Scott McDaniel, believes such projects will not only provide amenities to Jonesboro residents, but will also attract new tourism to ranging from area families seeking recreation to people attending regional sports tournaments. New tourism dollars would be an economic boost to the city through increased spending at local hotels, restaurants and retail outlets. Similar projects have proved to be a successful business model in cities similar to Jonesboro’s size.
“We need to decide what kind of community we want to be,” McDaniel told NEA Report on Sunday. “Are we going to embrace quality and growth? Are we willing to invest in the known things that will make this a safer and stronger community? Team Jonesboro is willing and is excited to make its case on Tuesday.”
It wouldn’t just be a blank check for the government, though.
Funding stemming from the initiative would be closely monitored by an oversight integrity council. The committee will hold regular public meetings in which local residents and groups will be able to introduce ideas, follow discussion and vetting of projects and keep up to date with how initiative dollars of allocated. The committee will then make recommendations based on specific standards and initiative criteria.
Beyond the new construction projects, the initiative will look to address some areas of critical need in the community. Among those will be dramatically increasing funding for mosquito treatment and eradication, sidewalk construction and maintenance and a focused investment in building more bike paths. Similar investment projects have been increasing in popularity across the state and the country.
The Team Jonesboro Initiative will also increase funding for critical public safety needs such as construction of new fire stations, fire department staffing and equipment upgrades. Recent estimations by the Jonesboro Fire Department have shown that with the booming growth throughout Jonesboro, new stations and increased staffing is needed to help insure Jonesboro maintains a top level ISO (Insurance Service Office) rating. In addition to increased funding for fire safety, the Team Jonesboro Initiative will seek additional resources for all groups of first responders including the hiring of additional police officers, improved facilities, infrastructure and modernization of the Jonesboro E-911 program.
Team Jonesboro encourages everyone who wants to learn more about the initiative to attend Tuesday’s meeting of the Jonesboro City Council.
They’re also asking the public to connect with them on Facebook, share ideas, and provide feedback.