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Arkadelphia Siftings Herald - Arkadelphia, AR
  • No equality in present tax structure

  • Area resident opposed to the continuation of the economic development sales tax.
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  • Dear Editor, 
    Dr. King once said, “Our lives begin to die when we become silent about things that matter.”
    The half-cent sale tax matters to me, so I’m speaking out about why I will not vote for the renewal of the half-cent sale tax.
    First reason: About a month before the half-cent sales tax was voted on in 2006, I invited about 25 to 30 people to my home to talk about the tax. All were African American. 
    My reason was, I felt that we should all be on the same page — either we were going to vote for the tax or we were not. I was totally against the tax and I had some good reasoning, but I promised the people in attendance that if we voted for the tax that I would not speak out against it. Also, our black pastors would lead this effort, not the NAACP.
    We had five pastors in the group of people that attended this meeting. They were as follows: Rev. Llewellyn Terry (Mt. Olive Baptist Church), Dr. Lewis Shepherd (Greater Pleasant Hill Baptist Church), Rev. James Giles (St. Paul A.M.E.), Superintendent Leroy Williams (Tate Temple C.O.G.I.C.) and Rev. Charles Hood (Gennesaret Baptist Church).
    The EDCCC at that time consisted of five commissioners and fifteen advisories. So, we decided at this meeting that in order for us (the African American community) to vote for this tax we wanted two of the five commissioners to be African American and we wanted the fifteen advisories to look like the community of Arkadelphia. We later went to the Quorum Court and
    Rev. Charles Hood made the presentation and the Quorum Court voted unanimously for our request. We (the African American community) overwhelmingly voted for the half-cent sales tax and it passed! Now that has all changed.
    Second reason: There is not one African American business that has benefitted from the half-cent sales tax, not one; and they will never benefit as long as the tax structure stays the same.
    The sad part is that they (the powers to be) knew that in 2006, but they (the powers to be) told us (the African American community) something different.
    Third reason: The EDCCC, The Alliance and The Chamber are all housed in an office space on Pine Street. They all draw salaries or stipends from the half-cent sales tax and they are all white. Not one African American works in that office nor has an African American received a dime from this tax money — not one — and that is not right, in my opinion.
    Page 2 of 2 - These are the three reasons that I will not vote for the renewal of the half-cent sales tax. Also, there is one other reason why I am speaking out, and that is that Dr. King also said, “Silence gives consent.”
    So, let’s come together and defeat this tax bill and work with our state representatives or whomever and pass a Clark County Economic Development Bill that will help our small businesses, both black and white. Help start small businesses, both black and white.
    Henry Wilson, President
    Clark County NAACP

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