BENTONVILLE (KFSM) -- Early voting begins Tuesday (March 5) for a temporary sales tax that would fund construction of a new county courthouse in downtown Bentonville.
If approved, Benton County residents would pay a one-eighth cent sales tax for 54 months. Benton County Judge Barry Moehring said last month it's "as minimal of tax as we can go."
“One-eighth of a cent is 12.5 cents per one hundred dollars of spending, and to put that in perspective, the state sales tax is at 6.5 percent, so that would be $6.50 on $100,” Moehring said.
“It’s for 4 1/2 years. There’s a hard sunset — it ends then, and by then the building will be built and paid for."
The $35 million project will be funded primarily by the sales tax, but the Walton Family Foundation donated more than a million dollars to the project as long as the facility's location was tied to downtown.
If approved, the new courthouse on Northeast Second Street will hold all eight courtrooms under the same building -- something Moehring has said is the county's No. 1 priority.
“Our current court facilities are outdated they are scattered in downtime Bentonville, so there is security issues,” Moehring said in February.
“We don’t have a lot of parking, we don’t have desperation of detainees inmates from the public and from the judiciary. So what we need is a modern and contemporary court facilities, and that’s what we’re doing here tonight.”
Detractors have said the courthouse would be better located -- and more affordable -- if it was built on Southeast 14th Street near the county jail.
Benton County currently holds circuit court in three different buildings downtown: the historic courthouse, a leased building across the street and the old post office adjacent to the courthouse.
Election day is March 12. Early voting runs through March 11, and polls are open between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Early voting sites are listed below:
- Bentonville County Clerk's Office, 215 E. Central Ave., Ste. 217
- Benton County Election Commission, 2109 W. Walnut St. in Rogers
- Siloam Springs County Clerk's Office, 707 S. Lincoln St.
- First Landmark Baptist Church, 206 S.E. 28th St. in Bentonville
- Riordan Hall, 3 Riordan Road in Bella Vista
- Rogers/Lowell Chamber of Commerce, 506 Enterprise Drive in Lowell
- Reach Church, 900 W. Centerton Blvd. in Centerton