Fort Smith Residents Worry About Sales Tax Proposal To Fund U.S. Marshals Museum

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) — We are more than a month away from a special election in Fort Smith where voters will decide whether or not to approve a temporary one-cent sales tax increase to help fund the completion of the U.S. Marshals Museum.

The proposed tax increase will impact more than what you're buying at the store — it will also affect your utility bills.

Rose Hensley of Fort Smith, received signs she plans to display on her front yard. The signs read, vote no to the U.S. Marshals Museum sales tax.

"With this tax passing, we would be looking at almost 11% for our combined sales tax. That's insane, that puts us in the number one spot for the entire state. That`s not the number one spot that I want Fort Smith to be known for," said Hensley.

She says this month her gas bill was more than $200. That's on top of other bills like water, electric, and her phone bill.

"It`s not just the 1% here, it`s 2% there, 3%, and 5% here. It all adds up and we just can`t keep paying this. We can`t keep giving and giving and giving and not seeing anything in return," Hensley said.

A spokesperson with the U.S. Marshals Museum Foundation says according to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration the sales tax will generate $15-16 million dollars over the nine-month period.

They say 50 % of those sales will come from outside the city.

"When we talk one penny, one percent, one penny on the dollar sales tax, for every $100 you spend, one dollar goes toward the tax," said Alice Alt, U.S. Marshals Museum Vice President of Development.

The museum foundation is counting down the days to the dedication ceremony coming up on September 24th, and promise the temporary one-cent sales tax increase will end.

Meanwhile, Hensley says she's not against the U.S. Marshals Museum being built, but she has made up her mind about the sales tax.

"All these taxes are adding up. When my sewer rate is twice my water bill and that's because of something the city's been kicking down the road for decades these are the things we need to get under control before we start looking at a museum and then taxing the citizens for that," said Hensley.

The museum foundation says if the sales tax doesn't pass it will continue to fundraise to see this project completed.

The special election is March 12th. Early voting begins March 5th.

The official grand opening of the U.S. Marshals Museum is still set for sometime next year.

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