PEA RIDGE Since the Bisbee administration took office in county government almost a year ago we, like most people reading this, have been dependent on the newspapers for information concerning county affairs. Other priorities have limited my trips to Quorum Court meetings, so I am out of touch with many of the daily activities that once occupied my time. This is another of those things we attribute to old age and the limitations thereof.
Toward the end of November, as the Quorum Court was trying to come up with next year’s budget and the problems of declining revenue, the daily newspapers reported that they (the Quorum Court) lowered the county’s road fund millage. The decrease in the road fund millage was offset by an increase in the county general fundmillage rate. The article noted that this change will have very little impact on you and me but could greatly affect the cities’ plans of Rogers, Bentonville and Siloam Springs.
This issue is very dear to me because we tried to change an imbalance on thedistribution of the money collected through the County Road Fund millage while I was a member of the Quorum Court way back when. State law allows for a distribution of a portion of road millage to the incorporated cities for use in their street departments. Three cities, Rogers, Bentonville and Siloam Springs, receive a larger portion of the funds collected in their area because they have succeeded in getting special legislation passed that allows them to do so. A county lawsuit was initiated trying to prove that this special legislation was illegal since it pertained to a limited area. The lawsuit was ultimately unsuccessful aftergoing to the state Supreme Court, and those three cities continue to receive a larger portion of the road millage in their area than the county receives. In the city of Rogers, 90 percentof the road millage revenue goes to the city and only 10 percent of the county road millage goes to the county.
The General Revenue Fund of the county is provided through a millage rate that cannot exceed five mills. Money can be transferred from the general fund to the road fund, but the road fund cannot be transferred to the general fund. The maximum millage rate for the road fund is three mills if I remember correctly. For you and me, the maximum rate could be eight mills total but the money collected for the road fund and turned back to the cities never ends up on county roads. Therefore, rural citizens benefit from the Quorum Court’s decision even though the city residents may complain.
Under the reported budget numbers, we pay a combined rate of 6.9 mills, not the maximum allowable of eight mills.
Several people have asked me how I feel about the decision and I believe it is a good one. In fact I personally believe the majority of the decisions being made by the county judge, his staff and the QuorumCourt are a benefit to all of the residents of Benton County and that means the citizens living in cities as well as rural residents. It is important for this governing body to recognize its responsibility to the whole county and not just a city the members may live in.
The function of county government includes responsibility for the sheriff’s needs in the jail and patrolling primarily rural areas, the judicial complex, tax collection, property assessment, record keeping, etc. It takes revenue to provide these services and I applaud the county judge for his leadership at this very difficult period in our economy. It is nice to have a county judge who lives in rural Benton County and recognizes the differences in areas of the county
We will learn more about the Quorum Court’s decision on buildings in the near future. Wherever they choose to locate the Health Department, someone will complain. However, I trust they will make the best use of our available funds and will allow for the ongoing operation of all aspects of
Opinion, Pages 4 on 12/09/2009
Print Headline: Lynch Pen County roads benefit from Quorum’s decisions