Wednesday, November 21, 2012

EDITORIAL >> Voluntary tax

A voluntary tax of two and one-quarter mills for nonprofit organizations will be on property tax statements in Lonoke County next year as it has been for a decade. But this time, nonprofits will be called contract agencies rather than special agencies to satisfy a legal requirement from the state.

The county this week sent letters to all 11 nonprofits — including the Lonoke County Council on Aging, Lonoke County Exceptional School, Lonoke County Fair Association — asking them to provide services to the county and they will be eligible for the voluntary tax.

But as reporter Joan McCoy wrote in The Leader last Saturday, nonprofit groups that don’t come through by the end of the year with details about their services will not be eligible for a share of the $60,000 the voluntary tax brings in every year.

Lonoke County Judge Doug Erwin and the members of the quorum court appeared confident last week that calling the nonprofits contract agencies and requiring them to actually have a contract for services with the county would keep the county out of trouble with the state legislative audit.

But many appeared dismayed that the non-profits hadn’t already provided Erwin with the information he requested in September.

They must sign up for the program to keep the tax. They should not ignore the generosity of county taxpayers or the warnings from auditors.