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Carlock v. City of Blytheville

Supreme Court of Arkansas

October 24, 2019

James Craig CARLOCK, Individually and as a Representative of a Class of Persons Similarly Situated, Appellant
v.
The CITY OF BLYTHEVILLE, Arkansas, Appellee

Page 156

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 157

          APPEAL FROM THE MISSISSIPPI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, CHICKASAWBA DISTRICT [NO. 47BCV-14-145], HONORABLE RICHARD LUSBY, JUDGE

         Law Offices of Harris & Morrison, by: James W. Harris, and Zachary W. Morrison, Blytheville, for appellant.

         William Clark Mann III, Little Rock, for appellee.

         OPINION

         ROBIN F. WYNNE, Associate Justice

          James Craig Carlock, individually and as a representative of a class of persons similarly situated, appeals from an order of the Mississippi County Circuit Court dismissing his illegal-exaction complaint against the City of Blytheville, Arkansas. He argues on appeal that the trial court should have been permitted to look beyond the wording of the enabling ordinance and ballot title in determining whether tax money is being spent for an approved purpose. He contends that case law from this court to the contrary should either be overruled or not applied in this case. We affirm.

          For a period of time, the City stopped paying payroll and employment taxes to the federal government. In 2011, the Internal Revenue Service made a demand for payment of the unpaid taxes. In December 2011, the City passed an ordinance proposing a temporary one-cent sales and use tax to be collected for fifteen months. The City passed a second ordinance calling for a special election to be held on the proposed tax on March 13, 2012.

          The ballot title for the proposed tax stated,

The Sales and Use Tax shall be levied and the net collections received used by the City to pay and remit federal and state income tax withholdings, employer and employee FICA and Medicare payroll tax contributions, federal and state employment tax contributions, and other amounts due and payable by the City to federal and state authorities in connection therewith.

          The proposed tax was approved at the special election. The tax generated $3,519,296.57 in revenue. The City paid the federal government $2,947,853.05 to settle its tax obligation. After the debt was satisfied, the City continued to collect the tax for the last two months of the fifteen-month

Page 158

enactment period. A total of $571,443.52 in revenue remained after the debt was satisfied. Those funds were placed in a separate ...


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