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Voters to decide whether or not to extend existing sales and use tax for UAFS

The university is asking voters to consider extending the one-quarter of 1% sales and use tax for another 10 years.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — When Sebastian County voters head to the polls on Nov. 3 they'll be able to decide whether or not to extend an existing tax for the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith.

In 2001, voters chose to pass a tax that would support the growth of the UAFS.

The university is now asking to extend the one-quarter of 1% sales and use tax for another 10 years.

“It’s kind of hard to translate to every citizen because everyone consumes at different rates. So, if you spend a dollar, you’re going to pay one-quarter of one cent to this tax," said Michael Barr, Co-chair, Friends of UAFS.

The millions of dollars generated from the tax go directly to the university.

It helps keep tuition reasonable and with maintenance and operation costs… as well as capital improvements that support four-year-degree programs.

The Friends of UAFS say no tax is insignificant but call it a valuable investment in the community.

“By taking kids from our local high schools and moving them into jobs in our local job market, not only jobs that provide them the opportunity but allow our organizations to succeed and grow and thrive in our communities pay off times over," Barr said.

The opposition group led by attorney Joey McCutchen feels differently about the tax.

“We all support UAFS but it’s time to get rid of this regressive extremely high sales tax and this is the first step to do that," McCutchen said.

He says the citizens of Sebastian County have enough taxes to worry about and have fulfilled their obligation to the school.

“It’s time to tighten the belt and it’s time use state dollars that we also give," McCutchen said. We have 6.5% sales taxes that go to the state. It’s time to start using state dollars."

Voters will have the final say and will get to make their choice in less than a month.

Early voting at the polls begins on Oct. 19.

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