City to re­fund money to prop­erty own­ers

Cave Springs ac­cepts Moehring’s de­ci­sion

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - BY TOM SISSOM AND ALEXAN­DER NICOLL

CAVE SPRINGS — The city plans to re­fund about $242,000 to prop­erty own­ers now that the county judge has ruled the money was il­le­gally col­lected.

The City Coun­cil voted Tues­day night to ac­cept Ben­ton County Judge Barry Moehring’s de­ci­sion and not ap­peal it to cir­cuit court. The city es­ti­mated the 5 mills in prop­erty tax rev­enue would bring in about $400,000 in 2017. The tax rev­enue rep­re­sents al­most a quar­ter of its bud­get, city at­tor­ney Justin Eich­mann said Fri­day.

He and county at­tor­ney Ge­orge Spence said the next step is to get a for­mal or­der signed by Moehring that will out­line the re­fund process. All the money col­lected as prop­erty taxes on be­half of the city will be re­turned to res­i­dents, Eich­mann said.

He said the or­der should go through in about a week, but re­turn­ing the money could take months. Spence said the re­funds will be han­dled by the county col­lec­tor’s of­fice.

Res­i­dents may do­nate their re­fund back to the

city, Eich­mann said, but he doesn’t have de­tails yet.

The county sent the city $10,907 in 2016 pay­ments be­fore the er­ror was found. It has held tax re­ceipts since pend­ing the res­o­lu­tion of the case. In all, $242,143 was col­lected through July 31, ac­cord­ing to the col­lec­tor’s of­fice.

Delin­quent tax pay­ments for pre­vi­ous years are not af­fected, Eich­mann said. Those taxes are still due.

County Clerk Tena O’Brien was con­tacted by some­one in March who tipped her off Cave Springs hadn’t adopted a mill­age for 2017 as re­quired by law, ac­cord­ing to fil­ings.

Cave Springs failed to sub­mit the cor­rect mill­age

for 2017 and in­stead turned in a copy of the city’s mill­age res­o­lu­tion for 2016. The only dif­fer­ence be­tween the two was a hand­writ­ten res­o­lu­tion num­ber. Eich­mann ar­gued in a hear­ing on Fri­day the coun­cil in­tended to levy the same mill­age in 2017 as it did in 2016. The level would be 5 mills, ac­cord­ing to min­utes from pre­vi­ous City Coun­cil meet­ings.

Cities and school dis­tricts have to ap­prove and no­tify the county each year of the prop­erty tax mill­age they in­tend to levy. Mil­lages are in an or­di­nance adopted by the Quo­rum Court in Novem­ber.

State law doesn’t re­quire an or­di­nance or res­o­lu­tion, only that the coun­cil “make out and cer­tify” the tax levy, Eich­mann ar­gued in a hear­ing be­fore Moehring on Fri­day.

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