JONESBORO — Jerry Morgan took note of an article Thursday in the Conway Log Cabin Democrat.
It was about plans that central Arkansas city has for construction of a multipurpose recreational facility featuring an aquatic center. It will be paid for by Conway’s advertising and promotion tax.
Morgan is chairman of Jonesboro’s Advertising and Promotion Commission, and he said it illustrates what his commission wants to do for Jonesboro.
“Conway’s been paying for parks and recreation projects with its A&P tax for years,” Morgan said. “Instead of trying to get the money, they’re ready to build.”
The Jonesboro City Council will hear the second of three required readings on Oct. 19 on a proposed ordinance to impose a 2 percent prepared food tax and increase the existing 3 percent hotel occupancy tax to 4 percent. The money raised from the tax would be used to pay for a multipurpose sports complex.
The Conway City Council reviewed plans Tuesday for the facility that would include over 140,000 square feet of renovated and new indoor space as well as an outdoor aquatic area that would cost an estimated $14 million.
It’s similar to the type of facility Jonesboro leaders propose to build. It will include non-aquatic related spaces such as eight volleyball courts, 12 pickleball or badminton courts, five party rooms, an indoor track wrapping around the volley courts and three multi-purpose rooms.
Conway collects a 2 percent tax on prepared foods, along with a 2 percent hotel occupancy tax. Conway collected $4 million from those taxes in 2020 and $4.5 million in 2019, according to data collected by Arkansas Business. The Conway newspaper reports 75 percent of Conway’s A&P tax collections is dedicated to parks and recreation construction.
Planning for the Conway complex began in 2018.
In addition to Conway, Morgan said plans will soon be announced for a similar project in West Memphis. He said Jonesboro is competing with those cities and others for new economic development.
“When businesses and professionals look at which city they want to locate in, especially those with children, they look at what those cities have to offer,” Morgan said. “They don’t look for the city with the lowest tax rate.”