December 10, 2011 by wcobserver
Prairie Grove and Greenland Up, West Fork Down
By Jeff Winkler
WASHINGTON COUNTY — Like their bigger city counterparts, some towns in south Washington County – such as Greenland and Prairie Grove — saw an increase in property and sales tax revenue this year.
Prairie Grove had 10 percent increase in sales tax collection compared to 2010, with a total of $682,000. Not even finished with the year, “it looks likely that the total yearly collections will surpass the previous year-high set in 2008,” according to the city’s recent newsletter.
The city’s percentage of the per-capita county sales tax also played a role in the increased revenue thanks to Prairie Grove being the fastest-growing area in the county, according to recent census figures.
More good news for Prairie Grove is the city’s property values, which saw the “highest percentage of increase in the county on property values at nearly 4 percent,” according to the newsletter.” [And] over the past five or six years has either led in property tax growth due to increased valuation or been one of the top two or three.”
Despite all the good financial news, City Manager Larry Oelrich said the city isn’t going to act like it’s got money to burn.
“We’re just now presenting budgets, so it definitely made for an easier job of operating in the black next year, than we had in the last few years,” Oelrich said. “But we’re not looking at going crazy and spending the money, either.”
Oelrich said one of the immediate benefits of the increased revenue was filling a police department position that had been vacant for three years due to financial constraints.
“Other than that, we’re not looking at any significant spending increases. We’re going to sit back and take a look at it and hopefully start putting money in some reserves.
Like Prairie Grove, Greenland saw an increase in property tax revenue thanks to an overall rise in property valuation. County property tax so far this year is $40,000 with a state turn-back of $17,911. With those figures, Greenland is on track for meeting its 2010 figures of $44,139 and a state turn back of $15,180.
As for sales tax revenue, Greenland has seen a small increase of about $12,000, compared to last year’s final, December figure of $267,946.
“Sales tax is kind of ticking up and that’s a real good thing,” said Greenland Mayor Bill Groom, who explained that almost all of the revenue comes from the voter-approved, one-cent tax.
Originally marked for Greenland School District improvements, Greenland residents overwhelmingly supported a July vote to continue the one-cent tax to go towards general improvements.