Voters in Jefferson County last week rejected a proposed 0.5 % increase in the sales tax to finance economic development.
The final tally was 4,525 opposed and 3,348 in favor.
Proponents said the tax hike would generate $45 million over 10 years to attract new business to Pine Bluff and other locations in the south-central Arkansas county, and provide technical education and training. The revenue was needed to recruit more businesses to the county, which has lost at least 15 industries in the last 10 years.
Groups opposing the tax increase included the Pine Bluff City Council, the Jefferson County Committee Against Being Left Holding the Bag, and the Jefferson County chapter of Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now.
The tax would have been added to Arkansas’ 6% sales tax, Pine Bluff’s 1% sales tax, and the county’s existing 1.5% sales tax.
Voters in Independence County in the state’s north-central region approved a 0.25% sales tax hike for economic development. A similar tax is in place in Mississippi, Clark, and Cross counties.