by Max Brantley
Eureka Springs and Fountain Lake have won a preliminary round decision in their lawsuit to avoid turning over to the state excess money generated by the required 25-mill property tax. Because of major industrial installations, the two districts' base millage produces more than the guaranteed per pupil expenditure of about $6,000 per student. The districts think they should keep the overage. The state says excess over minimum support in the base millage should go to the state at large. Circuit Judge Tim Fox sided with school districts. There will be an appeal to the state Supreme Court, which has had a pretty rigid view on that 25-mill base charge in the past.
It's a simple question, if not legally. Should a couple of small districts benefit disproportionately because of their good fortune at having gigantic industrial facilities — or a tax base otherwise extraordinary enough that the base millage produces far more than minimum state per-student support payment.