County assessor, tax collector say ZIP codes do not affect taxes

ZIP codes have no bearing on tax collection and how the taxes are remitted to municipalities, the Jefferson County tax collector and assessor said in a joint press release Monday.

Tax Collector Stephanie Stanton said that she and Assessor Yvonne Humphrey use a combination of school district boundary lines and city limit boundaries to determine who gets the tax revenue from any given Jefferson County residence.

“Each taxing entity gets its own code,” Stanton said. “For instance, there are people who live in the city limits of Pine Bluff but are also part of the White Hall School District. In that situation, the city of Pine Bluff will receive that resident’s municipal tax receipts and the White Hall School District will receive those tax receipts designated for schools. ZIP codes have nothing to do with it.”

Humphrey said that ZIP codes should not be a part of the conversation related to tax collection.

“For instance, Princeton Pike is partly in the Watson Chapel School District, the Dollarway School District and the White Hall School District,” Humphrey said. “It’s not about ZIP codes but instead school district boundary lines.

“A lot of questions are being asked as to the ZIP code affecting the tax situation, so we are trying to head these off before they get too far out there,” Humphrey said.

Pine Bluff City Council Ward 4 Aldermen Steven Mays and George Stepps and Ward 1 Alderwoman Thelma Walker recently formed a special committee to look into the 71602 ZIP code, which includes parts of Pine Bluff and White Hall. They were specifically interested as to whether all Pine Bluff residents were counted in the 2010 Census and whether tax money goes to the correct city.

On July 2, a Census Bureau employee told aldermen and city officials in a conference call arranged by Mayor Debe Hollingsworth that ZIP codes do no affect population counts. Specifically, Toni Pitchford said that Pine Bluff has not lost 12,000 people to White Hall because of the shared ZIP code, an idea being investigated by the city council committee.

Pitchford said that Census data are accumulated using municipal boundaries that are precisely determined using GPS technology.

“Our data collection determines exactly which political boundary any given housing unit is located in regardless of which ZIP code they are in,” Pitchford said. “We know that some people who live in Pine Bluff receive mail that says White Hall on it, but it is the actual boundaries of a city that determines where you reside.”

Pitchford said that federal fund allocations made by the U.S. Congress are determined using Census data and not ZIP code information.

Mays, Stepps and Walker were present for the conference call, as were Ward 1 Alderman Lloyd Holcomb Jr. and Ward 3 Alderman Bill Brumett.

When reached for comment Monday afternoon, Mays said that he had not seen the press release from Humphrey and Stanton. Mays has been a vocal proponent of the ZIP code investigation.

Pitchford is scheduled to attend ICVR Coffee with the Chiefs on Tuesday, Aug. 5, at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. Coffee with the Chiefs is open to the public.

Rev. Jesse C. Turner, ICVR executive director, said that an invitation has also been sent to the Pine Bluff postmaster.