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Fort Smith police chief pitches aggressive plan to raise salaries by almost 24%

Fort Smith Police Chief Danny Baker says the sales tax would bring officer base pay up to $50,000 and cost about $2.3 million a year.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — Fort Smith Police Chief Danny Baker proposes using proceeds from a sales tax plan to boost all salaries by 23.87% and begin adding five officers a year beginning in 2028. The pay boost would bring base pay up to $50,000 and cost about $2.3 million a year.

Baker pitched his self-described aggressive plan Tuesday during a Fort Smith Board of Directors study session about how police, fire, utilities, and the parks department would use the tax proceeds.

On Feb. 22 the Fort Smith board voted on two sales tax ordinances that city voters will consider May 24 in conjunction with the state’s primary election. The first tax request would renew a 0.25% sales tax that is evenly allocated between the city’s fire department and city’s parks and recreation department. Directors voted 5-2 to extend the tax for eight years, with collections from Sept. 30, 2022, to Sept. 20, 2030.

The second tax request would extend a 0.75% sales tax from Jan. 1, 2023, to Dec. 31, 2030, with 83.3% of the revenue going to federal consent decree work on the city’s water and sewer system, and 16.7% directed to the police department.

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