- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2016

HOPE, Ark. (AP) - Taxpayers in Hempstead County have voluntarily contributed $25,000 in taxes to help fund the local sheriff’s department.

The Hempstead County Quorum Court passed a tax ordinance in 2015 allowing citizens to voluntarily contribute $10 on their annual taxes for increasing sheriff’s deputies’ salaries, the Texarkana Gazette (https://bit.ly/2hS4lmq ) reported.

The annual salary for a certified deputy in 2014 was $24,700, the lowest in the southwest region of Arkansas. Sheriff James Singleton said that resulted in some veteran deputies leaving the department for better-paying jobs.

“Deputies just could not make it financially and support a family on that salary,” he said.

The voluntary tax funds will be distributed based on the amount of time a certified law enforcement officer has worked for Hempstead County, and count toward the officer’s retirement based on the amount received each year. A certified deputy must complete at least six months of service before becoming eligible for longevity pay from the voluntary tax funds. The sheriff does not receive any of the funds.

“I realize some folks are on a fixed income and cannot financially afford to contribute to the tax and we understand that. However, the Hempstead County Sheriff’s Office will continue to provide honest, caring and professional law enforcement to all citizens of Hempstead County regardless,” Singleton said.

“All we ask that you, the citizens, keep each one of our deputies and correction officers and their families in your prayers. It is my promise to you the citizens that … I will continue to fight for increased salaries for the deputies of this county.”

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Information from: Texarkana Gazette, https://www.texarkanagazette.com

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