Court denies library appeal | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Court denies library appeal

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 4:26 PM

As expected, the state Supreme Court today denied without comment a rehearing of its decision that the Central Arkansas Library System prematurely collected about a year's worth of a Little Rock library property tax increase.

It's unheard of for the court to rehear a unanimous opinion. The library was buying time. Winners of the taxpayer suit seem to prefer a credit on tax bills going out in March to refund the $1.5 million in impermissible collections. The tax would have been legal had it been voted on by the Quorum Court. Instead, a special election result was authorized by an order of the county judge after a December 2008 election.

If the credit doesn't make March tax bills, it will extend the repayment period and allow the library time to accrue some reserves for refunds  The library might prefer a refund plan in which taxpayers applied for a refund. That likely would produce a smaller tab for the library. The tax won overwhelming approval and a grassroots effort has begun by people who want the library  to keep their tax money.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to circuit court for a hearing on the refund. It's uncertain how soon a hearing can be scheduled and how quickly a refund plan can be devised and put in place.

Library Director Bobby Roberts said the library is just interested in an "orderly process." He said a credit might seem simple, it would be complicated by higher property values, for one thing. Crediting a one-mill reduction on higher value property this year would mean the library would have to refund more than it collected last year, for example. "Simple might not be fair," he said. Property owners change and there are many other variables, he said.

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