ASHDOWN — A major drop in sales-tax revenue has prompted leaders in Little River County to restrict spending in hopes of covering the budget shortfall.
County Judge Clayton Castleman said sales-tax revenue is down by about $720,000 this year, which prompted the cutbacks.
"The reduction in the sales tax revenue started our problems. Little River County was the last to feel the recession and we're the last to recover from the recession," Castleman said. "The sales tax revenue has not picked back up. People are not shopping at home. They're going out of town to shop."
No layoffs are planned, but the county is cutting back in other ways. The Texarkana Gazette reported Wednesday that county employees must pay a share of their dental and vision insurance, which is expected to save about $24,000 annually.
The county will also start charging $75 for large trash boxes that were previously free, and the landfill will close on Saturdays. Castleman said travel will also be limited for county officials and employees, and the county will also work to reduce its utility bills.
The cutbacks also trickle down to the county jail in Ashdown. Jail Administrator Chad Akins said when the jail was remodeled to meet state standards, skylights were included.
"When it becomes daylight, I'm going to turn off the lights and let the skylights provide lighting," he said.
Akins said the county is asking for help from inmates' relatives.
"We're asking families of prisoners to donate white towels and white boxer shorts," he said. "We want white so we can bleach the shorts and socks. This helps us save money."