Voters in North Little Rock will be surveyed over the next four weeks to determine if the electorate would support a 1% sales tax to finance a possible move of the Arkansas State Fair to the city.

Mayor Patrick Hays said last week that the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce will pay for a $5,000 public opinion survey to gauge support for a two-year tax that could generate $20 million for the move.

Hays said the city would use the tax revenue to purchase 2,000 acres outside the city limits as a fair site.

The Arkansas Livestock Show Association said in November 2009 it was looking to move the fair from its current site in Little Rock unless improvements were made to the property.

A 2010 study found it would cost $25 million to $57 million to upgrade the 168-acre fairground.

The entire project to move the fair would cost $200 million, but Hays said the city is only considering the site purchase.

Even if the poll shows support by voters, Hays said the city would not go ahead without a commitment from the livestock group.

A two-year 1% sales tax approved by voters in August 2005 to build a minor league baseball stadium generated $32.7 million over its span.

The permanent 1% city sales tax generated $16.8 million in 2007 but only $15.2 million in 2010.

The city tax is in addition to the 6% Arkansas state sales tax and a 1% sales tax for Pulaski County.

Hays said he expected the tax would generate up to $35 million. Revenue from the levy could also be used for street projects and other city efforts, according to the mayor.

The state fair, which is held in October, drew more than 472,000 visitors in 2010.Chamber president Terry Hartwick said the North Little Rock site could boost fair attendance to 750,000 a year.

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