Last Thursday evening the Quorum Court started with a remembrance of the ten years of service to Cleburne County by Larry Goff, JP District 11. Goff passed away May 31st. Governor Asa Hutchinson will appoint an interim Justice of the Peace to serve District 11. Tim Caldwell, JP District 3, presented the Goff family with a plaque commemorating Goff’s Service.
Judy Land, County Tax Assessor, announced to QC that her office had just finished the 2017 property values reappraisal project for the county. The county is on a five-year cycle with the last reappraisal occurring in 2012. Arkansas CAMA Technology, Inc. (ACT), a private real estate appraisal and assessment company, was hired by the county to manage the project.
There are approximately 31,087 taxable properties that have been appraised. Of this number, 13,701 parcels increased in value, 12,638 parcels decreased in value, and 4,754 parcels had no change in value. Factors that cause increases in property taxes are an increase in the assessed value of a property and a mileage increase from a local taxing authority.
In 2009 the appraised value of all county properties was $2 Billion. In 2012 the total appraised value for the county was $2.2 Billion – a 9% increase. The 2017 reappraisal has determined a similar increase of 9% based on the total assessed property values at $2.4 Billion. Between 2013 and 2017 $158.5 Million in new construction in the county occurred. According to ACT management, subtracting the new construction number from the 2017 appraisal, only a 2% increase in property values is realized.
Properties may be “frozen” on the principal residence for taxpayers over 65 or for those who are disabled. For other taxpayers, reappraisal assessments on principal residence can increase up to 5% annually until 20% of the property’s appraised value has been reached. For all other properties, assessments can increase up to 10% annually until 20% of the property’s appraised value has been reached.
Where property values increased, Notices of Change in Assessment will be mailed out by July 17, 2017. A property owner can also access to view current and past valuation of their properties.
ACT is also responsible for providing an informal appeals process should a property owner disagree with the new property assessment. They provide assistance to the Cleburne County Board of Equalization and the County Judge for all appeals. Property owners may file appeals starting July 17th through August 21st.
The first step in the appeal process is to call ACT’s office at the phone number listed on the property assessment notice. A property owner may request an appointment for a hearing with the Board of Equalization by calling the Cleburne County Clerk’s Office at 501-362-4620 should they disagree with the property assessment after speaking to ACT appraisers. Taxpayers can appeal the Board of Equalization’s decision to County Judge Jerry Holmes if dissatisfied with the board decision. If the appeal remains unresolved the final step would be to appeal to a Circuit Court.
A presentation on the current jail standards was provided by Sterling Pennix concerning the May standards committee. Brent Foust, JP District 8, requested that the members of the QC be provided copies of the report of the Standards Committee findings.
Issues of most concern were sufficient jail staffing; adequate training of jail staff; jail space to ensure compliance with court precedence to separate inmates by various parameters; limited storage space; inadequate lighting; and, condition of the jail and sheriff’s office roofs.    
“I would encourage you to come to the jail when it rains. It rains about the same pace inside as it is outside,” reported Sheriff Chris Brown.
Brown stated that he had received two repair quotes for the jail, “One came in at $47,000 and the other came in at $80,000 to redo the entire roof. The roof on the Sheriff Office building leaks about the same. I invite members of the Quorum Court to tour both facilities the next time it rains.”
Foust pointed out that the QC had appropriated about $50,000 last year to repair the jail roof. Pam Gray, County Treasurer, reported that in 2015 an appropriation ordinance in the amount of $50,500 was appropriated to the Parts and Repairs fund for the Detention Facility. However, $27,000 of that amount was used to install new doors in the facility. The balance in the Detention Facility fund was $35,000 at the end of June 2017.
Discussion followed as to the amount of funds needed to repair the entire roof and from where the funds would be appropriated. An appropriation ordinance for the jail roof will be determined later. QC members will review the May Jail Standards recommendations to determine what projects are needed to ensure the jail is in regulatory compliance.
A proposed ordinance to Amend the Circuit Clerk Recorder’s Cost Budget with an increase of $20,000 to update computer equipment and software passed unanimously.