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OPINION | EDITORIAL: Resolve question on boundaries, revenue

by Byron Tate | May 23, 2021 at 2:49 a.m.

For some reason, there is this never-ending suspicion that White Hall is slipping out in the wee hours of the night and rearranging the boundary lines between the city, manipulating the tax books, ZIP codes and school boundaries, and taking tax dollars that are rightfully Pine Bluff's. Officials can explain in any number of ways that this is not happening, but that doesn't seem to matter.

At last week's Pine Bluff City Council meeting, the council voted to enforce a 2014 resolution but never enforced. The resolution was to hire a firm and survey the boundary lines of the city.

Well, if the city doesn't know where it's boundary lines are, it's probably a good thing to figure that out. But the rest of this just seems like a waste of time.

One of the main "issues" is the belief that businesses with White Hall ZIP codes that are supposedly in Pine Bluff are paying taxes that are going to White Hall. Mayor Shirley Washington said she looked into that and found no evidence of it happening.

"If we have a business that is located on Dollarway Road, we clearly know that it is in Pine Bluff," Washington told the council. "We know it's clearly in Pine Bluff. We have traced the tax dollars and the tax dollars are coming to Pine Bluff."

And she reiterated that even though a ZIP code might be 72602, which is considered a White Hall ZIP, the taxes are still coming to Pine Bluff.

Certainly, there are several moving parts in all of this. ZIP codes don't follow city boundaries and neither do school district boundaries. But officials have done their best over the years to make all that clear.

We recall that a postal employee spoke to the council years ago to try to set some of the members straight on the matter, but apparently it didn't take.

There are other issues on the table that are also making the issue murkier, perhaps, than it needs to be. It was noted that Pine Bluff is losing population, but we can't see that a rise or fall in residents has anything to do with where a boundary is or where a business is sitting and where it's paying taxes or even where a school district's boundary extends, for that matter.

Perhaps this investigation into the matter could resolve it once and for all. If that's the case, it will be worth every penny. And at least we'll know exactly where the "Welcome to Pine Bluff" signs should go.

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