- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 9, 2017

CAVE SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) - Officials of a northwest Arkansas city have decided not to appeal a judge’s decision to bar the city from collecting money from 2016 property taxes.

County Judge Barry Moehring’s ruling Monday will leave Cave Springs without almost $400,000. City attorney Justin Eichmann says that’s almost a quarter of the city’s annual budget.

The Benton County assessor discovered in March that the city issued a millage tax rate from 2015 instead of one from 2016.

Three county officials - Treasurer Deanna Ratcliffe, Collector Gloria Peterson and County Clerk Tena O’Brien - decided to withhold the money.

Moehring said the city isn’t allowed to get their portion of property taxes because it didn’t certify the 2016 rate.

“There was no clarity of the intention of the Cave Springs City Council during the October 11 meeting, other than to vote against lowering the millage,” Moehring said. “There was no vote to keep the rate in place or to have city council members register their opinion.”

Councilman Randall Noblett said the city has already made budget cuts in response to the loss of money. Cuts include eliminating two full-time City Hall positions.

“We’ve made it almost eight months so far with limited funds, and we are staying afloat,” Noblett said. “At this point, we have to continue what we are doing, and we should make it through next year, when the 2017 taxes will come in - hopefully - without incident.”

Plans to refund taxpayers have yet to be made, Noblett said.

A legislative audit found that city officials misappropriated funds and took part in financial wrongdoing. An investigation is underway.

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