On Monday, the Cleburne County Quorum Court met in Heber Springs to discuss county business for the month of October. The meeting opened with the reading of the minutes and the Treasurer’s report. Judge Brenda Hunt informed the Court that “finances look good” for the county. The Court voted to give all county employees a $500 raise, excluding Quorum Court members, to take effect in next year’s budget.
Mark Mann, whose firm has designed the new library expansion, brought the first item before the Court seeking approval to go forward with the project. He explained the proposed $3.7 million project was too expensive and would be scaled down. The new plan will utilize the existing building, which will house a children’s section, and a new addition will be built on the north part of the property. He informed the Court that over $2 million in pledges and grants have been received with over $1 million already in the bank. The total building space of the new library will be 11,000 sq ft and will take approximately a year to complete. He asked for authorization to move forward with the project, receiving a unanimous vote approval from the Court.
The next issue before the Court was a presentation by Tom Scott of Arkansas CAMA Technology, Inc. concerning Cleburne County’s 3-year property reappraisal, which is used to determine property value for tax purposes. He provided the Court with an overall synopsis of how the methods they use to determine property values, such as structure square footage and age of the structure. He explained that they evaluated property and compared those to the record cards of the previous appraisal as a comparison to determine values and notices are mailed to property owners whose property value assessments have changed. Scott offered as staggering assessment of mineral values in the county when he stated that in 2009, the Cleburne County mineral assessment was $8.9 million, compared to the 2012 mineral assessment of $97.9 million. County reappraisals are dependent on how fast or slow county growth takes place. Scott explained that because Cleburne County experiences frequent changes due to growth, it is on a 3-year reappraisal cycle and set the standard for the rest of the state in 1997 with this more frequent cycle. He also stated that the technology exists to begin reappraisals annually rather than having to wait 3-5 years. Finally, Scott addressed a story first published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that reported five Arkansas counties were flagged for possible improper reappraisals. Cleburne County was one of those counties. Scott informed the Court that the flag was raised due to a misunderstanding between the auditors and how Cleburne County codes its sales. This discrepancy, he said, made it seem the appraisal was not in compliance and as soon as the misunderstanding was cleared, the flag would be removed.
Page 2 of 2 - The Court proposed its annual resolution to enter into a contract with ADEQ to give over obligation of landfill oversight to that agency. The vote to approve the resolution passed unanimously.
The Court unanimously agreed to refer an issue involving pay discrepancy with county employees to the elected officials in order to draft a policy change. The proposed policy change will be brought before the Court for a vote at next month’s meeting.
Judge Brenda Hunt reminded everyone that the dedication of the new court building is on October 29 at 4pm. Governor Beebe will be present for the dedication.
Next month’s meeting of the Quorum Court will be held November 26 at 6 p.m.