County Votes Down Sales Tax, Now May Have Property Tax Hike - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Poinsett County -- Heather Flanigan Reports

County Votes Down Sales Tax, Now May Have Property Tax Hike

September 8, 2004 – Posted at 3:40 p.m. CDT

POINSETT COUNTY -- Poinsett County has a crisis in its budget and property owners may be footing the bill. Last Tuesday, voters turned down a one-cent sales tax that would have been used to maintain county expenses, such as the jail. But now, the money may come from landowners.

“Taxes are high enough all the way around. I really think that they need to learn to live within their means. I can see increases of four or five percent a year, maybe. But not the way they've been going,” said one Poinsett County resident.

County government officials may be getting ready to tighten their belts. About 66 percent of the residents in Poinsett County voted down the one-cent sales tax last Tuesday, so now the Quorum Court and the County Judge must decide where the funding will come from to support the county government. One issue on the table, increasing the county millage. Right now, it's 1.6 mills, but the tax rate could go as high as 5 mills.

Johnny Johnson serves on the Poinsett County Quorum Court said, “Not everybody will have to pay with the millage increase, and to me that's the unfair way to do it.”

“A lot of the people said they didn't need no more taxes. We really kind of needed it though, but a lot of people said taxes, no, we don't need no more taxes,” said Voter Ann Vick.

One certainty is that the county's financial status hasn't been good. Last year, the 9-1-1 service, jail and landfill were more than $700,000 dollars in the hole.

“Services in the county don't come cheap. It takes money to operate the county jail, and 9-1-1, so we'll be looking at other options,” said Johnson.

And that may mean a property tax hike, but residents are leery.

“Everybody pays sales tax. If you go to the grocery store, Wal-Mart or Sears, or where ever you go, you're going to pay the sales tax,” said Johnson, “On the property tax, not everybody pays. Not everybody owns property, not everybody owns a home or land.”

“If you give it to them, they'll spend it, I guarantee that,” said one Poinsett County resident.

The Poinsett County Quorum court is expected to review other options for funding and will vote on the issue next Monday night. However, Johnson says nothing will be finalized until later this month.

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