The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported yesterday that the Searcy Parks & Recreation Department will receive the excess money from the A&P Tax fund after the refund process is complete. This was part of the A&P Tax refund ordinance that the city council passed last week.
On June 22nd, the Searcy Council passed an ordinance, upon its third reading, to offer refunds of the money to citizens who have their original receipts.
The tax was implemented on July 1, 2009, despite the submission of petitions for referendum by concerned citizens. This was in violation of the state constitution, which calls for the “abeyance” of a tax upon submission of petitions. After a lengthy legal battle, a judge ruled that the city’s defense (an ordinance from the 1930s, limiting the petition deadline to 30 days–the petitions in this situation were turned in past that alleged deadline) was invalid. Therefore, the city had no legal right to deny the petitions & their failure to hold the tax in abeyance led to an illegal exaction of funds.
Per state law, refunds of illegally extracted funds must be offered for refund. While the majority of the council & mayor have maintained that the money was not illegally exacted, issuing refunds with legally exacted money would be illegal in itself.
Refunds begin on July 23rd and will be issued for 180 days.
The current balance of A&P funds is approximately $450,000.
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