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Jonesboro property tax hearings to begin - again

The people of Jonesboro will get a chance to make their voices heard Monday morning on a proposal to re-institute a city property tax — for the fourth time in a month — as city leaders begin their second attempt, this year, to raise the town’s millage rate.

The city previously held three public hearings in late August and earlier this month, to set the town’s property tax rate at 2.5 mills. But, officials decided to postpone a vote on the issue, and restart the public-hearing process, amid concerns about the way the city advertised the previous hearings. State law requires the city to advertise the public hearings before they take place.

Next week will serve as the beginning of Jonesboro’s mulligan on the gathering of public input on the proposed property tax increase. “We looked at every advertisement proof before they were run [this time], so there wouldn’t be any mistakes,” Mayor Luther Maddox said. “We also had the city attorney look over them as well this time ... We’ll get it [the property tax issue] behind us one way or another.”

The Jonesboro City Council is scheduled to hold its first in a series of three new public hearings, Monday, at 10 a.m., in the City Council chambers of the Jonesboro Police Department, located at 170 South Main Street. Proponents and opponents will have a chance to address councilmembers about the proposal.

The city announced, earlier, that a 2.5-mill increase would result in property owners paying $25 for every $10,000 of assessed value for properties not covered by the town’s $60,000 homestead exemption.

The announcement explained that the owner of a piece of non-homestead property, such as a business or a rental home, with a fair market value of $75,000, would have to pay $75 in property taxes.

City officials pushed last December to re-establish a city property tax, which has not existed in several years, to help balance the city’s budget, and reduce the need to take money out of financial reserves to cover expenses.

“The city needs a tax base,” said City Councilmember Pat Sebo, a proponent of raising the millage rate, on Thursday. “We need that revenue coming in to support the city.”

Two subsequent public hearings are set to take place on Oct. 3, at 2 p.m., and again at 6 p.m., at the Jonesboro Police Department. The City Council is expected to vote to approve, or reject, the proposal immediately following the second public hearing on Oct. 3, according to an advertisement the city ran, Thursday, in the Clayton News Daily.

Sebo said she hopes there will be no further issues raised about the advertising of the public hearings. “We certainly want to do this legally,” she said. “We were, in no way, trying to skirt the legality of the issue before.”