Union County tax hearing conducted
A large crowd was in attendance last week for a public hearing regarding a proposed property tax increase for Union County government.
The public hearing was conducted Thursday morning, Dec. 21, at the Union County Courthouse in Jonesboro.
The hearing was held prior to a regular meeting of the Union County Board of Commissioners.
The proposed tax levy increase is for 2017 taxes which will be paid in 2018. The proposed increase amounts to an 8 percent increase over the previous year’s levy.
A public notice which was published prior to the hearing noted that the taxing district (the county) “has estimated its equalized assessed valuation to secure new growth revenue and must adhere to the Property Tax Extension Limitation law (PTELL or “tax cap” law).
“PTELL limits the increase over the prior year in the property tax extension of this taxing district to the lesser of 5 percent or the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).”
PTELL, often referred to as a “tax cap,” was approved by Union County voters a number of years ago. While Union County is under a tax cap, some neighboring counties are not, which has an impact on local taxes.
The public hearing, which was attended by more than 20 people, turned into a wide-ranging discussion about the tax cap, the generation of revenue for county government, the impact of taxes on business and other key topics.
County officials explained that while an increase has been proposed in the levy, they do not expect the action to actually raise property taxes by 8 percent.
Board of commissioners chairman Bobby Toler Jr. emphasized that the county won’t know the actual amount of the increase until next year. He noted that a public hearing regarding the matter was required by law.
Commissioner Danny Hartline said the issue focuses on the county’s ability to capture new properties which have been added to the tax rolls.
“Our projections are high...so we can get what actually comes in,” Hartline said. “We can only get what PTELL allows us.”
Commissioner Max Miller also noted that the public hearing gave officials an opportunity to explain how the process works, as well as its potential impact.
The board chairman emphasized the county receives a small portion of the funds which are generated by taxes. Much of the revenue goes to local school districts.
The issue of generating more revenue for the county led to discussion about sales tax funding.
At this time, a sales tax generates enough revenue to pay for the cost of the county’s new courthouse.
Any proposal to increase the sales tax would have to be decided by the voters of the county.
Board chairman Toler said that the sales tax proposal “is something we can take a look at.” Toler also said he would welcome those who were in attendance at the public hearing to be part of a committee which could be established to look into such matters as the sales tax.
Commissioners Toler and Hartline voiced appreciation to those who attended the public hearing.
Union County Clerk Terry Bartruff welcomed the opportunity to explain the impact of PTELL, the tax cap. “We want everybody to understand how this works. It’s a very complicated process.”
In their meeting which followed the public hearing, the commissioners approved allocation of $6,000 to the Union County Senior Citizens Council.