News Column

Crawford Lawmakers Updated On Jail Tax Financing Schedule

June 17, 2014

By Justin Bates, Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark.

June 17--Crawford County lawmakers were provided an update on the financing schedule for the countywide sales and use tax that will fund a 270-bed jail facility.

In the May 20 primary election, voters OK'd a three-quarter percent sales tax to fund the facility that will replace the existing 88-bed detention center in Van Buren, approving two separate tax issues -- a half-percent tax to pay the debt service for the construction of the jail, and a permanent quarter-percent tax for operations and maintenance.

Kevin Faught, a public finance banker with Stephens Inc., attended Monday's Quorum Court meeting, congratulated justices of the peace on a successful election and updated them on the bond financing schedule. Faught said based on financial projections, the tax will generate approximately $20 million to fund the project, adding interest rate projections show the half-percent tax bond that will pay for construction should sunset in eight to 10 years.

Based on the finance schedule, county bonds will be offered for public purchase Aug. 18. The bond issue is expected to be closed and the money transferred to the county in September, Faught said.

Attorney Ryan Bowman, a partner with Little Rock-based law firm Friday, Eldredge & Clark, who wrote the ballot title, informed the Quorum Court that the county could begin spending the money for construction costs as soon as Aug. 1.

Both taxes go into effect in October, and the county will begin receiving sales tax receipts in December, according to the schedule.

Bowman mentioned that, according to law, the county must spend the first five percent of collections from the tax by March.

Construction on the jail at 4301 U.S. 64, about a mile east of Interstate 540, will begin in April 2015 and be completed in January 2017, according to a design plan from SouthBuild TEAM, the architect hired by the county to design the facility. The facility will include housing for the Sheriff's Office, the 911 dispatching center and an arraignment courtroom.

County Judge John Hall applauded the team effort between the Quorum Court, Sheriff Ron Brown and the team of Stephens Inc. and Friday, Eldredge & Clark in working together to inform the public of the tax.

District 13 Justice of the Peace Butch Barnes agreed and thanked the voters for seeing the importance of the tax.

In other business, the Quorum Court authorized the county to apply for a $30,000 grant to remove, dispose of and replace the roof on the county Emergency Operations Center building.


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Source: Times Record (Fort Smith, AR)

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