As a follow-up to one of the anonymous comments generated by last week's blog, I fully understand the concept of replacement dollars of the proposed city sales tax for our parks and zoo, but the phrase "for other needs" gives me pause. In addition to where, when and how the anticipated increase in this new park/zoo tax will be spent on those facilities, it would be nice to know within some degree of identification what those other needs might be. In addition to infrastructure mentioned last week, let me suggest another - the homeless day resource center about which so much has been discussed and written for years.
Even though it is unclear just how many new dollars will be generated for these other needs by this proposed new tax, I think there would be strong support to dedicate a significant amount of whatever that is to our homeless problem, the face of which can be seen early most weekday mornings at the corner of Markham and Cross Streets. Although there are many divergent opinions as to what that day resource center should look like and where it should be located, let me further suggest an excellent model for replication - the Community Partnership for the Homeless, Inc.'s facility in Miami, Florida. Go to http://cphi.org to learn more. As an aside, the State of Florida enacted a food tax much like our local A&P tax that is dedicated exclusively to provide money for their homeless issue, so there may be another possible source of revenue that could be coupled with a portion of this new tax to provide a truly meaningful bundle of sustained funds for a day resource center in Little Rock. Besides the problem of funding, though, there is also the lingering obstacle of NIMBY, or "Not In My Back Yard" (a topic for a future blog) that has plagued us for years.
So, if there can be some clear explanation of exactly where, when and how all of the proposed new city sales tax dollars will be spent before the park/zoo tax is voted on perhaps later this year, it may well be our best hope to address not only the parks and zoo, but many of those yet unidentified other needs of our city including a goal to interrupt homelessness . If so, it may well warrant the description of "a smart proposal" which most citizens, including me, would support, in my view.