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Hempstead County Quorum Court

By Stephanie Harris -Smith, 08/30/19 8:48 PM

Quorum Court members said at the Thursday night meeting that they are still waiting on the new bid for the changes that must be made to the previous First Bank building before it is suitable for use as a courthouse.

Hempstead County Judge Jerry Crane said the chosen bid  was 3.2 million but they have, what he called, “tweaked it ” and are now waiting on the new number.”There are a lot of things they wanted to change, that we won’t change,” Crane said.

Crane also said the  cost of destruction of the current building with the asbestos issues that it has  standing at between two and three million dollars.

“We told them we needed to back up,” Crane said referring to the multi-million dollar bid .Adding on a positive note Crane said they are “making some headway.”

“We have a beautiful new building we are going into. Mainly we are stretching money as much as we can and things are good. We are going in the right direction.”

Hempstead  Tax Official Kim Smith also made an announcement for the public that recent articles on property taxes going up were “wrong.”

“Taxes are not going up, it is just a correction of the values.” Smith said they had spent $4,000 mailing notices to correct the mistake of the state.

“ If the values had been correct , the numbers would have been consistent,” Smith said,

“ I don’t think we have heard the end of this,” Smith stated. 

Hope Schools Superintendent Bobby Hart spoke out along with a consensus expert on the importance of this area responding to the count census. 

Hempstead County is one of the lowest response areas for the census, according to the census rep.

She said this area is a “hard to count area” due to lack of trust in the government, internet usage and other things.

Hart said the school is launching an outreach plan to help census response. 

“ A one percent undercount in the state of Arkansas is estimated to result in up toa  750 million dollar loss over a ten year period. The list is extensive of how many grant programs are affected by that count and loss of funds.

 Hart said the school will have a system set up for parents at teacher parent conferences to fill out census reports. “ We need to make sure we get this response up.”

Hempstead County Development official Steve Harris spoke about  three new prospects totaling 80 million dollars. He said he will return next month about the companies participating in what  is known as a pilot program, that allows the company a reduced property tax to keep them in this area.

 “ It is a good way to get them here,” Harris said. Next month the QC will discuss the decisions relating to this matter.