Fulton County Quorum Court finalizes verbiage of sales tax ordinance

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Fulton County Quorum Court met in special session on Tuesday, Aug. 28 to review the proposed verbiage of an ordinance that would propose a special election to raise funds for the sheriff’s department from the implementation of a one percent sales tax.

An audience member asked the court to explain the amount of money that could be brought in from a one percent sales tax. Judge Darrell Zimmer explained from past half-percent sales taxes currently being collected for both the fire departments and the hospital over the last three years, approximately $350,000 is collected, meaning that a one percent sales tax would bring in approximately $700,000. He went on to state that the budget currently for the sheriff’s department is $629,000.

The proposed ordinance, as presented for review at the meeting, reads as follows: “A levy of a one percent Sales and Use Tax within Fulton County, Arkansas beginning Jan. 1, 2019 to be used to improve, equip, staff and provide for the operation and maintenance of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and Fulton County Detention Facility and to pay for the costs associated with the housing of prisoners.”

Sheriff Roork told the court he feels his department needs close to a million dollars annually to operate, noting that Izard County’s Sheriff Department currently has a budget of $1.6 million. That would require $300,000 from the county, along with the money brought in from the proposed sales tax. With that budget he feels he can hire an investigator, which he desperately needs, and give his employees the pay raises they need. He also informed the justices that the cost of the required overtime from now to the end of the year would be around $10,000 for between 600 and 650 hours of overtime, though that could go higher depending on if another deputy gets injured. Roork also mentioned that Jail Standards inspectors have recently been inspecting the jail and have brought up a lack of staffing, which could also impact that cost.

A question was then brought up, asking if an emergency clause would be needed to ensure the ordinance, when passed at the Sept. 10 Quorum Court meeting, would go into effect soon enough to hold the special election on Dec. 11. County Attorney Eric Bray said he would look into it, and if it was required, it would be included in the final proposed ordinance presented at the September meeting.

A full story with more details of the meeting will be available in next week's issue of The News.

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