Greene County’s legislative body has announced its support for a proposed tax break for law enforcement officers.
At its Nov. 15 meeting, the Quorum Court adopted a resolution to that effect.
The resolution expresses the court’s support for legislation recommended by Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement to ease the state income tax burden on active full-time law enforcement officers. Senate Bill 304 in the 93rd General Assembly had proposed a $3,000 income tax credit for full-time officers, but the bill saw no action during the session.
“This is one that the state legislature talked about earlier this year,” said Greene County Judge Rusty McMillon, “and the sheriff was asking for our support on this one.”
As described in the resolution, Arkansas ranks next-to-last in average pay for such officers, the average pay of $40,750 being well below the average statewide wage of $42,690. In addition, the average entry-level pay for such officers is only $28,610, not appreciably more than the state’s $11-an-hour minimum wage.
The resolution also noted unprecedented revenue surpluses, as well as an expressed intent of Hutchinson to call a special legislative session to consider numerous tax credits. The sponsors of SB 304 have also expressed intent to file legislation, as noted in the resolution, along the same lines as the previous bill which received no action.
“Just to be transparent,” said District 4 Justice of the Peace (and finance committee chairman) Jonathon Davis, “this isn’t a Greene County tax, it’s not a Paragould tax, it’s not a tax that we have jurisdiction over.”
The resolution, which calls for a copy to be presented to state legislators representing Greene County, passed 10-0, District 1 Justice Dustin Rumsey being absent.
The Quorum Court adopted an ordnance establishing a Federal Grant Award Administration Policy for the county. The policy calls for a Program Director to be the person within the given department who will be responsible for the grant. The county judge is established as a “person with authority” for those grants requiring submission by such a “person with authority.”
The county judge is also to coordinate all grants requiring matching funds, and county budgets must reflect that such funds are available, either in the department’s budget or as the result of amendments to the budget. In all cases, expenditure of grant funds must follow all established procedures for purchases, bidding and paperwork.
With the adoption of an emergency clause, the ordinance became effective immediately upon passage.
The court adopted an amendment to its county budget appropriation ordinance. The amendment took advantage of the realignment of the county sheriff’s budget and the Jail Fund into the Law Enforcement Fund. The move has freed up $150,000 per month in the County General Fund ($600,000 total) to be moved into the Special Reserve Fund. “This is where we intend to pay off some Road Department equipment that we had some loans on,” said Davis. “It’s about the third time we’ve done this, and we expect we’ll do it at least once next year.”