Mississippi Co. courthouse fight heads to court

Mississippi Co. courthouse fight heads to court
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - The city of Osceola is seeking to stop a special election regarding a new courthouse in Blytheville.

On Tuesday, attorneys representing Osceola filed petitions for temporary and permanent injunctions for the upcoming August 9 special election.

The election only addresses the construction and money needed to build a new courthouse in Blytheville. It does not address the issue of courthouse consolidation or county seat consolidation.

Part of the sales tax in the county currently funds the Mississippi County Hospital System.

If voters approve the change in August, part of the sales tax would instead help fund $22,500,000 in bonds for a new courthouse in Blytheville.

Osceola's attorneys believe the special election is unlawful.

In a news release and court documents filed with the Mississippi County Circuit Clerk's Office, former Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and attorney Bart Calhoun made the following claims regarding the special election:

  1. Proper notice about the special election was not given to citizens and is not in compliance with Arkansas law.
  2. Voters in Mississippi County have not approved the construction of a new courthouse.
  3. The courthouse bonds are not adequately funded by the ordinance in the special election.
  4. The special election is an unlawful attempt by the county to establish Blytheville as the sole county seat.

Here is a look at the petition filed:

Phillip Dever, the chairman for Citizens of a Stronger Mississippi County, released the following statement about the petition to Region 8 News Wednesday:

"The citizens of Mississippi County can make great strides for our local communities by supporting the ordinances referred by the Quorum Court for the upcoming special election on August 9th.  Investing in our healthcare system, our roads, and our courthouse structures, without raising taxes, will improve people's lives and make Mississippi County an even better place to live.  It is disappointing to see opponents of progress go to such great lengths to keep the people from having a voice in their future."

As of Wednesday morning, a court date has not been set regarding the petition for an injunction.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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