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AAC F A M I L Y & F R I E N D S


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one-half, except where a greater amount is allowed by law, of the amount collected upon the property within the corporate limits of any city or town for use in making and repairing city streets and bridges in the respective cities or towns). Plainly, the sums available for county roads and bridges less the sums apportioned to the cities are not adequate. Further, several counties have special acts whereby the cities’ share is in excess of the 50-50 split. A cursory examination will reveal to the Governor or legislators that in many rural counties, one mill in property tax annually is not enough to buy or lease a couple of road graders each year. Many counties find it necessary to appropriate general county sales taxes or dedicated county sales taxes just to maintain their existing roads and bridges. Many legislators and even state officials on the Working Group were surprised to learn that countywide general sales taxes are apportioned on a pro rata basis between the county and the cities; and the city council allocation or portion is subject to appropriation by the city council each year in the annual city budget. See Attorney General Opinion No. 2014-077.


The bottom line is that only the largest counties in Arkansas have revenues available to build new bridges or new roads on new location. The projections for the counties’ share of 15 percent for 2016 are approximately $85 million for county roads and bridges statewide. Except for their county state aid, most counties use their dedicated road revenues to maintain, rebuild or resurface existing roads and bridges. The myths, misinformation and knowledge gap on these matters outside of rural Arkansas was and remains wide. Those that may advocate a different split may not be familiar with the facts above and below. Commencing in 1965 the people of Arkansas and their representatives established a revenue share in the passage of dedicated road funding for state highways, county roads and city streets based upon a traditional 70-15-15 split. From that point forward each gasoline, diesel or alternative motor fuels tax adopted by the General Assembly or the people, including the recently adopted half-cent sales tax under Amendment 91 of the Arkansas Constitution, contained an allocation to the state, city and county under a 70-15-15 split. This revenue sharing is based upon the commonly understood principle that: all Arkansans — urban and rural — pay motor fuel taxes; that our transportation system is exactly that — a system of state and local roads and bridges; and that the sums derived between cities and counties from a pro rata portion of a 3-mill property tax are grossly insufficient to maintain our local county roads, city streets and local bridges.


build new bridges or new roads on new locations ... Te myths, misinformation and knowledge gap on these mat- ters outside of rural Arkansas was and remains wide.


“T ”


The traditional split under ACA 20-70-207 further sets forth a traditional formula for division of the county portion, the county share of 15 percent as follows: 31 percent according to area, with each county to receive the proportion that its


COUNTY LINES, FALL 2015


area bears to the area of the state; 17 ½ percent according to the amount of state motor vehicle license fees collected in the calendar year preceding the distribution with each county to receive the proportion that the total of fees collected from the county bears to the total of fees collected in the state; 17 ½ percent according to population with each county to receive the proportion that its population bears to the population of the state; 13 ½ percent according to rural population with each county to receive the proportion that its rural population bears to the rural population of the state; and 20 ½ percent divided equally among the 75 counties. Much of the economy in Arkansas is based upon agriculture, cattle, poultry, timber, oil and gas production, hunting, fishing and tourism. Arkansas Farm Bureau recently reported that agriculture in Arkansas is a $20 billion industry.


he bottom line is that only the largest coun- ties in Arkansas have revenues available to


Assembly enacted an increase in the severance tax on natural gas from the meager $640,000 annually to the modest rate in order to partially offset the increased road and bridge damage caused by the gas production industry. These dedicated road taxes were supported by the industry. Absent support from rural Arkansans and allocation to local roads, the measure would have never received support of a super-majority of the Legislature. As stated recently by Rep. David Hillman, a member of the House Public Transportation Committee, the traditional split “is fair to everyone. ... Whatever we do to find more money for Arkansas’ transportation system needs to be shared on the same basis as in the past.” Rep. Hillman underscored the substance of the Governor’s proclamation and observed, “The transportation needs in Arkansas are more than just those of the state highway system. They are those of our counties and cities — all of which are necessary for adequate and safe roadways that our citizens deserve.” Rep. Lanny Fite, former Saline County judge, also observes that additional funding is needed for both our state and local roads and bridges.


But even with the recent increases in dedicated road funding from the severance tax and the dedicated sales tax, as declared in the Governor’s proclamation, “the tax structure on motor fuels in this state is currently inadequate.” Because the tax on motor fuels is a per-gallon basis rather than a sales tax for


See “ROADS” on Page 26 >>> 15


Those advocates seeking a different split may not have participated in the various coalitions supporting past road funding. Amendment 91 of the Arkansas Constitution adopted by the people in the General Election of 2012 included the traditional 70-15-15 split or revenue sharing. Those pondering revenues for roads should be mindful of the traditional and recent support of the people for the traditional 70-15-15 split. Not all that long ago, during the First Extraordinary of


2008, the


Session General


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