Three months in, county tax board collects $869,000

The county economic development tax brought in $868,688 in its first three months, which is on track with what its supporters had projected.

The Economic Development Corp. of Jefferson County met Tuesday and its members reviewed the board’s bank statements, which showed the three-eighths-cent sales tax approved by voters in February brought in $868,688 in July, August and September.

The board oversees the expenditures of the tax, which may be spent on projects that stimulate economic development in the county and to provide incentives to companies considering locating job-creating businesses in the county.

“Which is running right with our projects of $3.5-$3.6 million a year, assuming we don’t have any hiccups going forward,” said George Makris, board chairman.

There is a delay between when taxes are collected and when they are remitted because the collected monies first go to the state before they are sorted and distributed to the entities that govern them.

In other business, the board discussed legal advice concerning their tax-exempt status. Bridges, Young, Matthews and Drake PLC of Pine Bluff provided the board with a letter containing a legal opinion that the board is exempt from paying federal income taxes or filing annual tax returns. The board voted to accept the opinion and pay the $436 bill owed to the law firm. They decided that they will not pursue a Letter Ruling from the Internal Revenue Service, which would give them 100 percent certainty regarding taxability, but would cost $15,000.

Also, the board voted to advertise a request for proposals so they can hire an accountant to perform auditing services.

The board set its meeting schedule for the year: Jan. 17, Feb. 21, March 20, April 17, May 15, June 19, July 17, Aug. 21, Sept. 18, Oct. 16, Nov. 20 and Dec. 18. Meetings will be held at 4 p.m. at the Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County building at 510 Main St.

At its January meeting, the board expects to hear a presentation from Alliance Executive Director Lou Ann Nisbett. The Alliance has been hired by the board to perform professional economic development services. Makris said he will also have a draft prepared for the board’s review of the report they are required to submit to the Jefferson County Quorum Court by Feb. 1.