FAQs & Answers
What is the purpose of the initiative?
The Team Jonesboro Initiative is a citizen lead effort focused on improving Jonesboro’s standards on quality of life amenities while insuring our first responders are equipped with the resources to keep Jonesboro families safe. The Team Jonesboro Initiative will provide the necessary resources to redefine and redevelop our city and better equip Jonesboro to retain local talent and attract new 21st century industry.
Why is it needed?
While Jonesboro’s population has grown at a sharp pace this century, everyday enjoyable city amenities and entertainment outlets have lagged behind. Our crime rate is increasing with this new growth and is beginning to affect our city’s ability to attract and retain the bright community leaders of tomorrow. Simply put, if Jonesboro is going to continue to be a success we must act now to make our city standout among the scores of southern cities that dot the country. This initiative will create the revenue stream needed to change Jonesboro’s image, attractiveness and identity.
How long will the proposed tax last?
The 1% sales tax that is proposed in the initiative includes a 12 year sunset clause.
How much of this will be funded by people outside of Jonesboro?
It is estimated that between 50%-60% of annual spending in Jonesboro is done by people living outside the city limits of Jonesboro. This means that Jonesboro citizens can build new amenities and make local residents much safer for roughly 50 cents on the dollar.
Who controls the money? (sales tax collections)
Legally the city council is tasked with approving funds for projects that are recommended by the Quality of Life Oversight Integrity Counsel.
The Oversight Integrity Counsel that controls the money, how is that picked?
The Oversight Integrity Counsel will not have control over any public funds directly. They will hold public meetings where they will listen to community ideas, discuss and vet projects and then make recommendations to the city council when a project meetings the initiative criteria and public need. Members of the Oversight Integrity Counsel will be appointed by the mayor and approved by the city council.
How will these projects be financed?
The sales tax revenue structure allows for multiple financing options. Among those will be “pay as you go”, low interest bank loans and potential bond issuances.
How will these projects be prioritized?
The initial identified projects areas are what our data shows are priorities for the general public. In addition some projects are prioritized due to time sensitive available grant offers. Future projects will be introduced by the public or community group then discussed, considered and researched by the appointed Oversight Integrity Counsel.
Will this solve the city’s existing financial issues created from the pay raises?
This initiative is not intended to be a quick fix for any local financial issues. The way we ultimately improve Jonesboro's long-term financial growth is to generate more local economic activity. That is accomplished by attracting more people, high paying quality jobs and tourist spending to Jonesboro. Currently many families and individuals living in Jonesboro take their tourism dollars to nearby cities to patron their waterparks, shooting facilities, sporting tournaments and for general entertainment, this initiative will help keep those tourism dollars here.
How do we keep this from going into the city’s general fund?
The manner in which the ballot language is constructed provides a protection that monies can only be used for capital improvements related to quality of life related areas. This structure will insure that tax revenues will be spent in a manner that voters envisioned. We felt these protections were necessary to serve as a long-term stewardship of the voter’s intentions.
How much money will the 1% sales tax raise?
Based off current tax revenue collections we anticipate that a 1% sales tax will raise approximately 18 million dollars annually without new growth.
How can we make sure money is spent where voters intended it to be?
The Oversight Integrity Counsel will publish regular finance reports that account for funds raised by the tax. Additionally, the structured language of the ordinance is written in a way that only allows the tax to fund projects that meet specific requirement related to quality of life matters.
How will the tax be divided between public safety projects and quality of life amenities?
½ of the collections will be used for capital improvements, staffing and maintenance of a public safety nature. ½ of the tax will be dedicated to building, maintaining and staffing quality of life projects, beautification and community enhancement.
What does a bottom up approach mean?
The concept, ideas and specifics of the initiative were developed by private citizens of an extended period of time. The citizens Oversight Integrity Counsel saw a lack of funding for public safety and quality of life investments and decided to take action. Through private donations they hired a law firm to write the ordinance and did a wide variety of research to measure the public opinion and the type of things that would improve quality of life in Jonesboro.
How much money will the tax portion of the initiative generate over the 12 year life span of the proposed 1 cent tax?
Based off current collections the tax would generate approximately 216 million dollars over the 12 year run, assuming no new growth. We feel the tax will have a very noticeable impact on economic activity in Jonesboro and will help to generate increased revenues across the board for not only city funding but local businesses as well.
What other ways will the Team Jonesboro Initiative fund projects beyond the tax?
The Oversight Integrity Counsel will aggressively seek out match grants, private donations, naming rights and other funding sources to help insure the people of Jonesboro get even more than what the tax will generate.
How will this initiative help local businesses?
Currently local sports teams, people seeking entertainment and families pursuing recreation leave Jonesboro each weekend. When they leave Jonesboro, so do their wallets, purses and debit cards. This initiative will ultimately reduce the weekend exodus among residents and actually reverse the economic tide by attracting those people from around the region seeking recreation, entertainment and sporting events. Bringing more people into Jonesboro for the above reasons means more economic activity, which means more local revenue for local businesses and more sales tax collects to fund the needs of local government infrastructure.
What data was used to derive that 1/2% for Police and Fire and the 1/2% for Quality of Life investments?
Direct input from Police and Fire leaders was used to identify necessary department needs that currently lack funding. These items include things like new fire stations, updated communication systems and protective equipment. We feel it is important to emphasize that the 1/2% dedicated to public safety is protected by law and can ONLY be used for public safety capital improvements, staffing, maintenance and equipment.
We feel that a 1 cent sales tax will go a long way in greatly improving quality of life and public safety in Jonesboro. This amount will provide the funding to construct a multitude of key amenity projects while also allowing the Oversight Integrity Council and the City Council the resources and ability to fund various lower cost items such as specific playground equipment, park upgrades and safety needs as they arise.
How will these projects be funded upon the completion of the tax portion of the initiative?
Team Jonesboro believes this initiative will result in a dramatic increase in quality of life for each Jonesboro resident; we also believe these projects will spur significant economic development and increased economic activity throughout Jonesboro. More economic activity will result in more funding for city services. As an additional protection, the Oversight Integrity Council, the city Finance Committee and the Jonesboro City Council will take potential ongoing operating and maintenance into account when budgeting for projects.
Why separate the tax "within" the ordinance?
The revenue allocations from the tax are identified and detailed within the ordinance to ensure that public safety needs are not overlooked during the funding stages. The ½ cent dedicated to quality of life also protects that revenue stream to ensure it only goes to what voters intended. We feel that a vague and unprotected ordinance is both irresponsible and unfair. We feel the ordinance should be specific about what is a qualified expenditure.
We shouldn’t build amenities that we can’t protect or patrol. Many of the amenities will also house after school programs and help keep at risk youth out of trouble, helping reduce potential future crime before it starts.
The goal of this initiative is not just to increase spending for public safety or to just increase quality of life investment, the goal is to increase investment in Jonesboro and our community’s future.
Is there a specific list of projects that Team Jonesboro based their 1% funding ask on? Is 1% enough?
Our website list what Team Jonesboro has identified as potential projects that have either been identified through citizen conversations, unfunded city projects, popular projects in similar cities and projects that have a strong likelihood of gaining grants support. Police and Fire have also identified projects and needs for their departments.
We feel that a 1 cent sales tax for 12 years will help meet many of those needs and will also grow the local economy and support local businesses. The ordinance is written in a way to allow the oversight integrity council some degree of flexibility to fund projects that may arise in the future that are impossible to predict and price at the current time.
Why is now the “right time” for an initiative like Team Jonesboro?
Team Jonesboro believes it is critical that our city take immediate steps to keep Jonesboro competitive with similar sized cities who already offer more in terms of quality of life. Our Police and Fire Department have immediate needs that currently lack even minimal funding to complete. This not only put residents in potential danger — but could have a noticeable financial impact on Jonesboro citizens through insurance rate increases if public safety needs are not addressed.
Some of the potential projects listed on the Team Jonesboro website already have dedicated funding through the current city budget. Will passage result in current budget cuts for those items like sidewalks?
While some items like mosquito control, sidewalks and police and fire already receive funding in the current city budget, it’s simply not enough. The Team Jonesboro Initiative is a way to increase the current investment in the critical areas. We feel that transparency of safeguards for these areas are necessary to ensure that these funding increases are not reallocated against the will of the voters of Jonesboro.
What does a 1% tax increase mean? I’ve heard some confusing numbers from opponents of the initiative.
It is unfortunate that some agenda driven opponents of Team Jonesboro have spread misinformation about our Initiative. In an effort to cause confusion and divide our supporters, they have issued statements that include scary and very misleading math. Here is the absolute truth: a 1% tax increase means that the current cost of goods will increase by 1 penny for every dollar spent.
Example – If you currently spend $3.25 on a carton of milk, after the tax passes it will cost $3.28. If you spend $100 at the grocery store before the tax, it will cost you $101.00 after the tax has passed.
If the tax is not approved, how will the city fund the construction of new fire stations and public safety needs?
Currently the city would not be able to fund large item additional needs for public safety like fire stations or police communication systems. These projects could be partially funded by greatly depleting city reserves, but not fully paid for. The Team Jonesboro Initiative is the only current avenue to ensure proper funding is available for the important needs.
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