Paris voters approved a citywide 1 percent sales tax on Tuesday that will establish a long-term plan for the city’s sewage and water infrastructure.
Paris, a city of 3,532, has 1,869 registered voters, and unofficial but final results showed the tax passed overwhelmingly, by more than 85 percent, in a 223-39 vote. Early voters cast 67 ballots. The results remain unofficial until the County Election Board certifies them.
The tax will be used to pay any debt associated with water and sewage and funding its improvements and subsidizing the sanitation fee, with any leftover money for other city improvements.
The city has operated for years using the same water and sewage system and is looking to protect and improve the system.
The tax will provide improvements to Paris City Lake. Paris distributes water from the lake, which recently received a new pumping system, to several locations in Logan County and the tax will help to improve the water lines that will deliver water to the customers it serves.
The turnout was lower than anticipated, but Mayor Daniel Rogers got the results he desired.
"The vote turned out real well, and I’m excited about it," Rogers said. "It shows that Paris is concerned with our infrastructure problems."
Rogers said he will begin working on the city’s budget and preparing for improvement projects that the city will start next year. The tax will go into effect in January.
The city sales tax would increase to 9 percent, up from 8 percent, when including sales taxes levied by the county and the state. Arkansas has a half-percent tax for highway repairs that voters approved in November. The city also levies a half-percent sales tax, which goes to Mercy Hospital in Paris.
The sales tax is projected to raise revenue to fund improvements to the city’s aging water and sewage infrastructure and will eliminate the $12-monthly, $144-annual sanitation fee, saving the city an estimated $200,000 each year.
Rogers estimates that the tax will bring in about $500,000 in revenue to the city, with about $200,000 going to the subsidize the sanitation fee, and about $300,000 to go to water and sewage improvements.