Population drop in Mississippi County causing money woes - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Population drop in Mississippi County causing money woes

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - With the population in Mississippi County dropping, the sales tax money is too.

The county was notified that the new census figures are now in effect, and the state is not providing as much as it did before. Mississippi County lost nearly 5,000 people in the last census count.

Mississippi County collects both a sales tax and an Economic Development tax. The latter is collected and kept in the county. The sales tax revenue is sent to the state where it is portioned back out to the counties. The county then "turns back" a portion to the towns.

Luxora mayor Jasper Jackson says that turnback money plays a big part in his towns monthly survival. He uses that money to pay for police salaries as well as other day to day operations.

"Our turnback money is the biggest money coming in along with whatever little money that is generated on the side whatever the case may be." Jackson said. The other largest provider of city income is the fees for water.

Luxora lost about a 150 people and since the turnback money is based on population the cities share will drop as well. Revenue sources as far as sales tax are concerned are rather sparse in Luxora. A couple of grocery stores and a convenience store are all the retail sources. Atlas Asphalt which sits on the edge of town is getting ready to gear up for a busy season.

Jackson, "They spent about a million dollars on updating. The have the bid on the interstate, the 4 lane coming out of Jonesboro."

Each load of asphalt sold will add a few sales tax dollars to the towns income. Jackson shared his income paperwork with us and showed us how tight his budget is. He has to hold some money back for expenses and emergencies. If the city spends all it's capital the state could come in and take over. Jackson said he doesn't want to raise rates for city services so he has made cutbacks.

Jackson, "Cut down to where you can't cut no more. You have to run the departments." The mayor says there is no such thing as overtime in Luxora.

On the county level, Judge Randy Carney says county loyalty by it's residents is vitally important. "We have to remind our people we need to shop at home. " He says; "We are going to have to live with these census numbers for the next ten years. "

This year Carney says he expects to lose around 60 Thousand in the development funds. The judge feels that amount can be made up. On the other hand the sales tax revenue will be harder to recover.

Carney, "Based on February sales and projected over 12 months we're looking at over a quarter of a million dollar loss. That's a big hit in a small county."

Carney is sure that the county will be all right with careful money management and he is hopeful that the population will recover if new industries being courted will move into the area.

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