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Miller County taxpayers have voluntarily paid $2,850 since March 1 to benefit Miller County Animal Control.

The Miller County Quorum Court recently approved a voluntary assessment of $20 for residents to add to their annual property tax to reduce fees—currently $150—to have animals taken to the shelter.

The goal of voluntary assessment is to reduce the fee and hopefully cut down on the number of animals abandoned by their owners in rural areas of Miller County, said Miller County Judge Cathy Hardin Harrison.

"It's a huge issue for people living in rural areas," Harrison said.

Residents can volunteer to donate the $20 fee anytime during the year until the October filing deadline.

The ordinance provides a mechanism where property tax statements may contain an option for property owners to make a "voluntary assessment."

"Although the Arkansas code refers to such enactment as a 'voluntary assessment,' any such enactment is not levy of a mandatory tax and payment is solely within the discretion of the taxpayer," the ordinance states.

The Quorum Court can levy an annual voluntary contribution in the amount of $20 per every tax statement issued by Miller County for the benefit of the county with the purpose of the funds being used by the county judge as operating funds for Miller County Animal Control, according to the ordinance.

"I posted on my Facebook County Judge page asking for citizens' input," Harrison said. "It was shared many times with hundreds of comments that were positive."

Residents of Bowie County offered to donate, too, she said.

"I have met with Kenny Haskin regarding this matter," Harrison said. "This is an issue the city and the county need to work together on.

"This voluntary assessment would initiate the first step in addressing animal control issues that have forever plagued
Miller County."

Harrison showed concern for residents outside city limits, including Miller, Fouke, and Bowie counties and Texarkana, Texas.

"Abandoned, neglected and stray animals are a major issue in our county, and those citizens who would like to bring these animals to the city animal shelter cannot afford the current fee of $150 charged to those outside the city," Harrison said.

"The voluntary assessment would go to the animal shelter to offset the $150 fee, so more residents could help with this problem, rather than ignoring because of the cost."

"The second step would be exploring with assistance from the Miller County Sheriff's Department the possibility of establishing an animal control unit for the county, in establishing two full-time animal control officers to address the many daily calls of animal complaints that cannot be addressed because there are no personnel and resources to do so."

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