The sales tax increase proposal passed in Mayflower by a close vote Tuesday evening.

The unofficial results show that of the 1,200 registered voters in the city of Mayflower, 86 took to the polls during the special election. The tax increase ultimately passed by four votes — 45 registered voters voted in favor of the 0.5% (one half cent) sales tax increase and 41 voted against the proposal.

Monies generated from the tax will be used to bulk up the city’s general fund, which will allow officials to set back a three-month reserve in the event of emergencies and natural disasters while also providing additional revenue for the police and fire departments.

Before setting aside money to match grant opportunities and provide financial boosts to the city’s police and fire departments, officials want to establish a “healthy” reserve account, Dale Carter, the city’s financial director, said Wednesday.

“Get our reserve balance up — that’s the focus,” he told the Log Cabin Democrat.

To be comfortable, he said the city needs to have at least three months worth of its financial obligations on back up in the reserve fund. The fund, which needs about $180,000 to $200,000. Reaching that goal will take about one year, Carter said.

At the earliest, the city will begin collecting revenue from the tax in late-November. However, it is likely that the revenue stream will not make it’s way into the city’s general fund until January given the time it takes to get the election results certified and have all other associated paperwork completed, Carter said.

Despite a low voter turnout, Mayor Randy Holland said he excited for the opportunities the new tax will help create for the city.

“It will do a lot of things,” he said. “This is an exciting time for Mayflower.”

With the Mayflower City Center nearly complete, Holland said he sees a great deal of growth in the future.

As funds from the sales tax trickle in, Holland said he will earmark some of the money to be used specifically for obtaining grants.

Holland currently has his eye on the Safe Routes to School Program offered by the Arkansas Department of Transportation, which is an 80/20 grant the city previously had to turn down because it did not have the matching funds readily available. The grant is for $400,000 and requires the city to pay $80,000. The funds would have to be provided up front to receive the grant. Holland said the grant would benefit the city greatly because it would allow officials to install sidewalks for the district’s students.

Mayflower Police Chief Robert Alcon said he was “optimistic about the tax.”

“This will be helpful for the police and fire departments,” he told the Log Cabin. “I’m excited about the future and getting raises and equipment for our guys.”

Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at mhicks@thecabin.net.