BY JACLYN ROSE –
For the fourth year in a row, the county general budget has seen revenues declining or remaining static, with expenses increasing. According to County Judge, Brandon Ellison, while a balanced budget was passed in November of 2013 it was not easy to write. “We can only budget what we actually anticipate we will receive and the Treasurer will help us keep up with what has come in throughout the year to make sure our budget stays on target. The 2014 budget is very lean and the county needs to see an increase in revenues for 2015, I’m not sure where we can make additional cuts.”
While monies for the county come from several different sources, the most significant amount comes from the permanent one cent sales tax. In 2009 the sales tax receipts for Polk County were $1,428,369.06 and in 2013 the sales tax receipts have declined to $1,409,555.94. The 2010 and 2011 figures were $1,387,593.78 and $1,374,213.94 consecutively. While 2013 did see a minor increase from the previous years it still has shown a sharp decrease from 2009, with an increase in expense due to inflation. The money collected goes to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration where they collect a fee for handling it before it is returned to the county. It is vital for members of Polk County to make purchases in Polk County so the sales tax money can remain in the county and be used to make improvements locally.
Another area money comes to the county is through the personal property and real estate taxes. “What is important to understand is that the county receives just a small portion of the property tax revenue, the majority goes to the schools. A simple example, if a person pays $1000 in personal property and real estate taxes, $800 goes to the public school system, the county sees less than $200. I encourage readers to check their property tax statement to find their personal breakdown,” Ellison explained.
The county is currently working on completing the work on three bridges that were damaged in the May 2013 flood. These projects have been started but have seen delays due to bad weather. There are also four resurfacing projects in the south part of Polk County, Polk Roads 21, 23, 5, and 6, that are pre-planned and will be completed as soon as the weather warms up.