With the exception of 8 years of my life, I am a lifelong resident of Fort Smith. Speaking as an average citizen, I would have to agree there is a disconnect between the citizens and the city leadership.
The article in The City Wire this morning, "Business Leaders: Trust issues, poor messaging doomed 1% tax", mentions some area leaders giving their reasons for the 1%PFT failing. The reasons were from "poor messaging" to Our city leaders displayed, especially early on, a very condescending attitude."
It has now been two days since the defeat of the 1%PFT and how many times have I already heard about the approved 1cent sales tax in Clarksville. In an attempt to heal the disconnect between the leadership and the citizens of Fort Smith, we must begin to compare Fort Smith with Clarksville. Fort Smith has a 2%city sales tax, Clarksville had a 1% city sales tax before passing the tax. Clarksville has a 1% county sales tax while Fort Smith has a 1.25% county sales tax. Clarksville has a 1%Food Tax and a 1% Lodging tax while Fort Smith has a 3% Lodging Tax. Clarksville has a county property tax of 0.46 millage while Fort Smith has a 0.5250 millage.
To truly move forward and heal the disconnect, we must compare what other nearby cities are doing with the taxes they collect with what Fort Smith is doing with the taxes it collects from the people. We can begin with transparency. We can compare the expense budget of the Mayor of Clarksville with the expense budget of the Mayor of Fort Smith. Next we can compare the salary packages of Fort Smith Expo, Kay Rodgers Park with the salary packages at the Fort Smith Convention Center. Then we can compare the salary packages of the A&P in Clarksville with the Salary packages of the A&P in Fort Smith.