Most of Craighead County will see property tax rates stay same

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The time has come again for CraigheadCounty to set property tax rates for next year.

Only one area in the county should see millage ratesincrease in 2014, which will likely come as welcomed news for many property owners.

Only people in the Brookland School District will have topay more property taxes next year. That's because voters approved a 1.99-millincrease in September to fund construction of three new buildings.

For all other school districts and towns, the millage ratesshould remain the same as the previous year.

Craighead County officials have not sought to hike theproperty tax rate in years, allowing the portion that goes to the county toremain at 8.10 mills for another year.

"I think everyone in government recognizes that individualsfeel as though they pay enough for services that they receive and so our goalis not to request additional funding," said Tony Thomas, the Craighead Countyjudge's assistant. "Our goal is to work within the parameters that the publichas provided us to provide a service that they either request or is required bylaw to provide."

Craighead County currently splits property tax revenue threeways – the county fund tax, the county road tax and the county library tax.

Thomas says the portion that goes into the county generalfund helps the government operate.

"It funds just about every office in county government," heexplained. "It funds our detention center and our sheriff's department. Itfunds our judicial system."

The rest of the revenue goes into separate funds for theCraighead County Library as well as the road department.

The county would normally have to seek voters' approval toraise the property tax rates for the county fund or county library, but Thomassays the county has more discretion to alter the county road millage.

"In this instance," he said, "the county has decided thatrevenues we have are sufficient to do the things that we currently strive todo."

The county has not had to raise any county property taxrates partly because the revenue only funds about 35 percent of the county'stotal operating budget. The county coffers are instead primarily filled with salestax revenue. Thomas estimates about 65 percent of the county's overall fundingcomes from its one-cent sales tax.

"The sales tax, as you'll find with a lot of entities, sortof drives our process more so than the property taxes," he said. "The influx ordecrease in sales tax determines the level of services we're able to provide."

"The levels that we're at right now," he added, "don't allowus to do everything that we would desire to do, but they do allow us to providegood quality service to Craighead County citizens."

The Craighead County quorum court will meet at 7 p.m. onMonday, and is set to approve property tax rates for 2014 at that time.

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