19 districts ask voters for higher millages
At least 19 Arkansas school districts are seeking millage increases Tuesday that will help among other things fund construction projects and raise salaries.
The Harrisburg School District in Poinsett County is trying for a third time to equalize its millage rate with that of the former Weiner School District, which merged with Harrisburg in 2011.
Several schools have proposed to build new high schools, taking advantage of the Arkansas Academic Facilities Partnership Program that allocates a percentage
of available funding for districts that pass millages.
“I think a lot of people are afraid that funding will go away in the future,” Berryville Superintendent Owen Powell said. “There’s never a good time to ask for a millage increase — nobody likes taxes — but we have a good reason to ask for one. We have a big need, and we have additional funding.”
Berryville seeks a 4.45-mill increase to fund a $24 million project that will include building a new high school, a performing arts center, and cafeterias and media centers at its high school and middle schools.
A mill is one-tenth of a cent. Each mill is charged against each dollar of assessed property value and would therefore produce $1 of tax for each $1,000 of valuation.
Counties assess property at 20 percent of its appraised value, meaning a $100,000 home has a taxable value of $20,000. One mill levied on an assessed value of $20,000 yields $20 in property taxes.
De Queen School District voters are being asked to pass a 4.9-mill increase to fund a $13 million to $14 million new high school.
Superintendent Bruce Hill said his district will receive about $1.7 million from the Arkansas Academic Facilities Partnership Program, and had the state given more he would not have asked for as high a millage.
De Queen’s current millage rate of 27.3 mills is the lowest in the state.
“If the state would have given us more, we’d only need to ask for 1.2 mills,” Hill said.
The district asked for a higher millage last year in hopes of funding multiple projects. When voters turned it down overwhelmingly, Hill scaled the proposal down to building only a new high school.
“We understand people don’t like taxes, but we have a need,” he said.
The schools seeking millage increases or equalization and the projects they hope to fund are:
■ Boone County — Valley Springs School District, 7.1-mill increase, from 32.8 mills to 39.9 mills for construction of a 20,000-squarefoot high school building.
■ Carroll County — Berryville School District, 4.45-mill increase, from 38.05 mills to 42.5 mills for construction of a 98,000-squarefoot high school building, and a cafeteria and media center for the high school and middle school.
■ Cleburne County — Heber Springs School District, 3.6-mill increase, from 32.8 mills to 36.4 mills for salaries and benefits for school faculty and staff members.
■ Columbia County — Magnolia School Board, 3.4-mill increase, from 29.6 mills to 33 mills for construction of a high school performing arts center, health center at Central Elementary and resurfacing of parking lot. ■ Desha County — Dumas School District, 3-mill increase, from 39 to 42 mills for new maintenance and operation.
■ Faulkner County — Vilonia School District, 5.7-mill increase, from 39.9 mills to 45.6 mills for construction of several projects, including a new auditorium and expansion of the cafeteria.
■ Garland County — Cutter Morning Star School District, 8.4-mill increase, from 40.5 mills to 48.9 mills for construction of a high school.
■ Grant County — Bauxite School District, 3.6-mill increase, from 38.6 mills to 42.2 mills for construction of an academic building at the high school and addition of four classrooms to Pine Haven Elementary School.
■ Greene County — Greene County Tech, 4-mill increase, from 37.49 mills to 41.49 mills for maintenance and operations, and new debt service. ■ Hot Spring County — Malvern School District, 3.49-mill increase, from 37.65 mills to 41.14 mills for renovations to high school campus.
■ Jackson County — Jackson County School District, 3-mill increase, from 33 mills to 36 mills for general repairs to buildings and playgrounds on campuses, addition of air-conditioning and heating to field house, new roof on middle school building.
■ Johnson County — Lamar School District, 4.65-mill increase, from 35.33 mills to 39.98 mills for construction of a new high school.
■ Lincoln County — Star City School District, 1.75-mill increase, from 37 mills to 38.75 mills for improvements to elementary school, a new gymnasium, teacher salaries. ■ Little River County — Ashdown School District, 3.9-mill increase, from 35.7 mills to 39.6 mills for construction of a new high school.
■ Monroe County — Clarendon School District, 3.5-mill increase, from 35.9 mills to 39.4 mills for construction of a gymnasium.
■ Perry County — Perryville School District, 2.7-mill increase, from 34.98 mills to 37.68 mills for construction of a new cafeteria.
■ Poinsett County — Harrisburg School District, 4.4-mill increase, from 35.5 mills to 39.9 mills to equalize millage rate with the rate in the former Weiner School District, which merged with Harrisburg in 2011.
Marked Tree School District, 6-mill increase, from 33.5 mills to 39.5 mills for construction of new wings on elementary and high school buildings, renovations to cafeterias.
■ Sevier County — De Queen School District, 4.9-mill increase, from 27.3 mills to 32.2 mills for construction of a new high school.