Tax items for Benton County Jail expansion to be on Nov. 8 ballot
Justices of the peace previously set the rates for a proposed one-eighth percent sales tax increase to pay for the bond for the expansion and a one-quarter percent sales tax increase to pay for the operations and management of the jail.
BENTONVILLE — Sales tax increases to pay to expand and operate the Benton County Jail will be on the November ballot. The Benton County Quorum Court approved the third reading of the ordinances that will put the sales tax proposals in the hands of the voters.
The vote was 14-1 at Thursday’s meeting to call special elections for two sales tax increases. Justice of the Peace Joseph Bollinger voted against placing the tax increases on the ballot.
The items will be on the ballot for the Nov. 8 election. The court approved the first reading in June and the second one last month.
Justices of the peace previously set the rates for a proposed one-eighth percent sales tax increase to pay for the bond for the expansion and a onequarter percent sales tax increase to pay for the operations and management of the jail.
Sheriff Shawn Holloway previously told the justices of the peace the expansion is necessary to deal with the overcrowding issues in the jail.
A county criminal justice committee recommended earlier this year that nearly $250 million be spent on a jail expansion and a courts complex.
Money from the oneeighth percent increase would be used to pay off the bonds that would finance the jail expansion. The tax will end when the bonds are paid off.
The one-quarter percent increase, which would pay for operations of the jail, would be a permanent tax.
The ballot measures will only concern expanding the jail because justices of the peace plan to pay for the courts project with existing county money. The estimated budget for the jail expansion project is $206.2 million.
Jon Comstock of Rogers urged the court to consider other alternatives before expanding the jail. Comstock said a pretrial services program could free up dozens of beds in the jail. Comstock has been a consistent voice objecting to the expansion project.
In other business, justices of the peace heard that the Beaver Lake Fire Department had dropped its plan to raise fees to fund the department.
Jeff Dunn, chairman of the Beaver Lake Fire Department, told justices of the peace at Thursday’s meeting the board had met and passed a resolution unanimously withdrawing the petition. Dunn said the board is working on a new plan to fund the department and will bring it forward for a vote.
The Quorum Court voted 15-0 on the petition’s withdrawal and to cancel any scheduled hearings.
The justices of the peace also approved a resolution 15-0 to dedicate the Benton County Administration Building in honor of former Benton County Judge Bruce Rutherford. A plaque honoring Rutherford will be placed in the building’s lobby.
Rutherford served as county judge from 1989 to 1996, and he also worked as an investigator for the Benton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. He worked as a Siloam Springs police officer and Benton County sheriff’s deputy as well.
The dedication ceremony will take place during the court’s Sept. 29 meeting.