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  1. Amid Controversy, ORT Millage Put on Ballot


    March 26, 2012 by Jamie Smith

    WASHINGTON COUNTY – Washington County voters will be given the option to vote on a quarter-cent sales tax this May after the Washington County Quorum Court voted 7-4 to send it to the ballot. The vote came during the Court’s March 8 meeting. Justices of the Peace (JPs) Lance Eads, Butch Pond, Tom Lundstrom and Rick Cochran voted against placing the measure on the ballot. If passed, the quarter-cent sales tax will provide $7.5 million annually for Ozark Regional Transit (ORT) to expand its Washington County services. A similar measure was sought in Benton County but the Benton County Quorum Court voted against placing it on the ballot. This was the third time the Washington County JPs faced the issue because the law requires that the measure be read three times before being finalized. The JPs and County Judge Marilyn Edwards issued a statement to the standing-room only crowd that read: “The role of the Quorum Court in this matter is to determine whether or not the proposed tax should be referred to the electorate, not whether or not they are for or against the tax. The County Judge presides over the Quorum Court without a vote and does not …


  2. QUORUM COURT: ORT Tax Debated


    February 8, 2012 by Jamie Smith

    FAYETTEVILLE – A potential tax increase vote was cause for a lengthy discussion during the Jan. 12 Washington County Quorum Court meeting. Ozark Regional Transit, which offers public transportation through scheduled rides and fixed routes in Benton and Washington County, wants to ask Washington County voters for a quarter-cent sales tax increase. The estimated $7 million in revenue would be used to overcome a budget shortfall, as well as expand services. The discussion came up Jan. 12 because the measure must have several readings before being placed on the ballot. Federal law dictates that Ozark Regional Transit will lose a large chunk of its federal funding because of population increases shown in the 2010 U.S. Census. This spring, ORT approached both the Washington County and Benton County quorum courts, asking that the sales tax increase request be allowed on the ballot. Washington County gave the go-ahead for it to be on the ballot, clarifying that it was not necessarily an endorsement for the measure. Benton County, on the other hand, voted against allowing the measure to go to the voters. If the measure passes in Washington County, all money raised in Washington County would go to support transportation services in …


  3. Gridlock Avoided, County Passes Budget


    December 19, 2011 by Jamie Smith

    FAYETTEVILLE — It was standing room only during the Dec. 8 Washington County Quorum Court meeting with a large majority of the crowd being county employees interested in if the 2012 budget that included a five-percent raise for all employees would pass. ​ The $62 million budget did pass, but not unanimously. Three justices of the peace — Rex Bailey, Joe Patterson and Tom Lundstrom — voted against the proposed budget, each citing concerns about the fact that the JPs had to reduce the amount of money placed in reserves for 2012 to balance the budget.