Proposed Property Tax Increase for Natural State

February 16, 2004 -- Posted at 4:32 CST

JONESBORO—Some property owners in Region 8 aren't sold on a proposed tax increase.

This Fall Arkansans will decide if property taxes will increase in most of the state's school districts to fund public education. But the increase is conditional upon voter approval statewide.

"I say it is worth paying an extra tax if we can get kids educated," said one Region 8 Resident.

"Oh I have to think about that. Not property taxes. I think it could be done in other ways," said Region 8 Resident Heike Huckabee.

A new state law, passed in the Special Session, would increase the minimum millage for maintenance and operations in each district from 25 to 28 mills. The 4 school districts in Jonesboro are currently operating at the minimum of 25 mills for maintenance and operations, but their totals are different.

Valley View School District leads the pack with 37.7, followed by Nettleton with 35 mils. In Nettleton's case, their numbers are high because in recent years patrons in that district have chosen to tax themselves, for projects such as a new junior high school.

"It's a burden for our patrons and at this point, since we've increased our millage twice in the last 4 years, I don't think it would be really fair to go back to them a third time, especially when you're mandating it by law," said Nettleton School Superintendent Danny Blalock.

As the law stands, an increased sales tax is already on the way, which is more reason why Blalock thinks higher property taxes will not be well received.

"You're eventually going to hit some resistance and I'm afraid that we're at that point right now," said Blalock.