Benton, Washington residents readying for tax proposals

AP News
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Posted: Oct 04, 2015 1:42 PM

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Residents in several northwest Arkansas counties are preparing for a flurry of activity from politicians and builders who are calling for increased taxes to meet growing needs and several structures in the planning stages in a handful of counties.

Benton and Washington counties have discussed options of a sales or property tax to cover a new courthouse in Benton County and to help cover growing jail costs and other expenses in Washington County. At least one small town, West Fork, is considering a higher sales tax for bigger and better projects and services.

With local governments considering needs and budgets for the coming year, bringing up all these potential requests at the same time isn't surprising, said Mark Hayes, the Arkansas Municipal League's legal services director.

"We're into the budgeting season, and so it's time to take stock," he said Friday. "There's infrastructure needs, there's public safety needs, there are road needs, water — the list goes on and on, and population increases certainly tax all of those things."

Rising population and demand on public services are the common themes behind the increases, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Sunday. (http://bit.ly/1j7VY6Y ).

The Fayetteville City Council is set this week to discuss for the second time a 1-mill increase in property tax to pay for more police officers, firefighters and a few other positions. The city's library is mulling the details of when to ask taxpayers for a millage increase and how much it would be.

The two counties have discussed options of a sales or property tax to cover a new courthouse in Benton County and to help cover growing jail costs and other expenses in Washington County. At least one small town, West Fork, is considering a higher sales tax for bigger and better projects and services.