Franchise taxes: Berryville collections to begin in April

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

By Haley Schichtl

The Berryville City Council on Tuesday night voted to approve the collection of utility franchise taxes in the city.

Entergy Corp., Carroll Electric Cooperative Corp. and Black Hills Energy will collect the franchise taxes in Berryville.

The rates for Entergy and Carroll Electric will be 4.25 percent and the rate for Black Hills will be 4 percent. Collections will begin April 1. The companies will pay the franchise taxes to the city starting in February 2021, and then begin making payments quarterly.

“It’s responsible government what you all did and I appreciate it,” Mayor Tim McKinney said. “We’re still going to have one of the lowest tax rates of any city and we still won’t have property taxes.”

The council also approved a resolution authorizing the Carroll-Boone Water District to make improvements to the system that are outlined in phase one of the District’s Master Plan.

The district works with Berryville, Eureka Springs, Green Forest and Harrison, and three of the four cities have to approve the resolution before they can continue with the plan. The resolution asks that the council allow the district to increase its indebtedness by refinancing and extending the life of its bonds.

Olsson Engineering representative Chris Hall was at the meeting to talk about the project.

“There’s going to be a minimal increase in the overall yearly payback for that, but they’re going to be able to absorb that. So there’s not going to be any pass-through with the rate increase onto the cities,” Hall said. “So we’re going to be able to fund these projects without a rate increase.”

Hall said the water district’s board of directors will go to all four cities this month and then have a special board meeting the first week of March, where they will choose a bond company and set the interest rate. He said the water district hopes to start construction on the projects in 2021.

He said it is best to do the bond refinancing now while interest rates are low, and updates are needed soon for safety concerns. One of the projects is an updated generator for the plant.

“Now, they have to go and shut down everything in the plant, do a manual transfer over to the generators they have today,” Hall said. “With the new generators, they’ll be able to flip a switch and it’ll automatically transfer. It’s also a safety issue so you don’t have a guy out there switching this off in the rain, snow, or whatever else. We’re bringing them into the 21st century here.”

Phase one also includes pumping and valve upgrades and continuing segments of a parallel water transmission line.

Also at the meeting, McKinney presented a proclamation to the council declaring the week of Feb. 10-16 Ronald McDonald House Week.

The Ronald McDonald House program, based in Springfield, gives a free place to stay to families of seriously ill or injured children who have to travel for medical treatment. The program has served 179 Carroll County families, including 65 from Berryville. The funding comes from the Share-a-Heart campaign, which can be donated to at McDonald’s of the Ozarks, Great Southern Bank, Mid-Am Metal Forming and KY3 Television, throughout the month of February.

“I would encourage everybody to support this. It’s a great cause and helps a lot of families,” McKinney said.

The Berryville city council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18 at City Hall.

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