BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA) — In a March special election, Benton County constituents will vote on a sales tax proposal.
The money from the tax would go towards building a new county court facility in the coming years.
“This particular plan, we’ve been working on now for 18 months, but the discussion around the need for a new courts facility goes back many, many years,” Benton County Judge Barry Moehring said.
On Tuesday night the Benton County Quorum Court approved two ordinances, a sales tax increase for the construction of a circuit court facility in Bentonville, and to put it on a special election ballot.
The one-eighth-cent sales tax increase would be for 54 months, if approved by voters. The county has already adopted a building design and site on Second Street in downtown Bentonville.
“It’s estimated to be about $30 million dollars, 87,000 sq. feet, six courtrooms when it opens, eight when it’s fully expanded,” Moehring said.
Benton County Judge Barry Moehring says this is a crucial project because courtrooms are currently scattered in three different facilities.
“That creates three points of security entry, three places where we have to take inmates, three places where the public has to go,” Moehring said.
But others like Jacob Faught, the Vice Chair of the Benton County Libertarian Party, isn’t convinced that $30 million dollars needs to be spent.
“When they presented the courthouse plan it was just one plan, there was no alternative” Faught said.
While Faught agrees that a new facility is a legitimate need, he would like other options to be considered.
“The taxes in Arkansas and in Benton County are some of the highest…many of the cities in Benton County are pushing 10 percent.”
If the proposed sales tax increase is passed in March, Moehring says ground would be broken this summer and construction would be in a 24-month timeframe.