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Jefferson County won't renew economic development sales tax

By The Associated Press
This article was published November 24, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AP) — A sales tax increase approved by Jefferson County voters in 2011 to fund economic development won't be renewed next year.

According to the Pine Bluff Commercial , the Economic Development Corp. of Jefferson County voted this week to let the tax sunset in 2018. The sales tax was part of the "Penny for Progress" initiative that funded both economic development and infrastructure improvements.

The portion of the tax that funds infrastructure does not have a sunset provision.

The board's chairman, George Makris, noted that Pine Bluff voters this year approved a separate sales tax that will fund city improvements. The Go Forward Pine Bluff plan is expected to raise about $4 million per year for the city.

"Letting the tax sunset will give the voters a break, and I am confident that if we need it back, the voters will approve another tax," Makris said.

The Jefferson County tax was estimated to bring in about $3.5 million annually, and Makris said that number has been on target.

"We have $13.5 million in assets, and assuming that we don't make any more payouts, we're going to have about $15 million," Makris said. "I don't see an immediate need for us to stockpile money."

Since the tax was approved in 2011, the proceeds have been used for improvements or incentives at multiple businesses, including a more than $280,000 incentive package for a gluten-free flour mill that set's to open next year in the Jefferson Industrial Park.

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