It’s that fabulous time of year filled with announcements and opportunities at the FOA! Especially this year, our city has a huge opportunity with regard to the upcoming election.
I love this city and appreciate the crossroads in which we find ourselves. The people who have brought us to this opportunity to choose our path are certainly worth thanking: the Jonesboro City Council, Mayor Perrin, and especially those who initiated and worked in support of Team Jonesboro.
In truth, on a national and even state level, I am generally opposed to tax increases. I tend to support other means of strengthening our communities, like incentives for small businesses and volunteerism. However, on the local level, where we have a much more direct line of communication, local control, and checks and balances, a sales tax such as this is, I believe, the most equitable way make Jonesboro a more attractive place to live and visit. As new aquatic centers, theater and arts venues, and community events create a culture that is welcoming to talented and productive people, more of those people will choose Jonesboro to visit or to be their home.
Research from Americans for the Arts finds that each time an individual patron visits the theater, they spend an average of $20 in their community as a direct result of their trip. Perhaps it’s on dinner at a local restaurant, flowers for a friend or relative in the show, gas to get into town, or a babysitter for their children. However the money is spent, businesses and individuals in our community benefit economically on each visit. And what happens when businesses and individuals in our community get paid? They turn around and spend that money with someone else, hopefully, in our community. As this money circulates, businesses grow, more jobs are created, and more money stays in Jonesboro. The benefits, therefore, are compounding.
With this tax, there is greater hope for more jobs, stronger businesses, and higher numbers of talented and productive people who choose to visit and live in Jonesboro, volunteer in Jonesboro, and give of themselves in Jonesboro.
For you who say that this tax is a hardship, I am sensitive to that – and I hope that you can come to realize that as the quality of life improves in our city, so do opportunities for more employment opportunities. A more vibrant volunteer base, and healthier churches and faith based organizations are then better able to help those who are the most vulnerable among us.
This tax is also important culturally. When a community demonstrates that they value their overall health – physically through parks, community centers, sidewalks and bike paths, mentally, through great schools, and spiritually through churches and the arts, people want to be in that community – interconnected in ways that make us stick together. People are attracted to health, so let’s choose to be healthier. Let’s create an environment where our kids will stay around to raise their kids and where they can find jobs they were educated for.
Let’s lead our city from a holistic standpoint. The direct beneficiaries of this tax are all of us. The potential aquatic centers, arts centers, museums, and the like will feed everything around them. They provide experiences for families to do together, they support surrounding businesses economically, and they create an atmosphere and culture for people to find unity through common activities. They give all of us something in common – and thus, keep our larger family, our community, together.
I ask the people of Jonesboro to vote for the 1 cent sales tax in support of quality of life activities and venues and a stronger police and fire department to protect the growth that will surely follow such improvements to our community.
Please vote in support of more hope for our community. It truly is a watershed moment in our city as we choose whether to grow or stagnate relative to our counterparts in the state. This is our opportunity, thanks to the leaders who began this initiative, to make a difference, one vote at a time.