Tax study circle to inform public
Arkansans will have an opportunity to come together and talk about how taxes and tax funded services affect them and how they can be a part of building a successful tax system through a program called Speak Up! Arkansas on Taxes. This program is through a partnership with the Arkansas Study Circles project and the Cooperative Extension Service, according to Bobby Hall, County Extension agent, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture. The Arkansas Study Circles Project has its organizational home through the Arkansas School Boards Association Educational Foundation.
Dave Freeze, Mississippi County Extension Agent-Staff Chair, is serving as the local coordinator to help organize Speak Up! Arkansas on Taxes in the county. He recruited citizens throughout the county to serve as a work group to help organize and encourage volunteers to take part in the study circles that will be held on Nov. 11 and Nov. 18. The study circles will be made up of 8-12 citizens.
The goal of the study circles is to have an educated public that understands tax issues and that provides constructive suggestions on how to develop a success tax system in Arkansas.
Study Circles bring people fro many viewpoints and backgrounds together for honest and helpful discussions, and they give people a chance to build trust and find common ground. Study Circles are guided by a neutral facilitator, recorder and a discussion guide.
The Arkansas Education television Network (AETN) will kick off the Speak Up! Arkansas on taxes event on Nov. 4 from 8-10 p.m. This will provide citizens an opportunity to call or email questions to a diverse panel of educators, financial experts, government officials and others charged with helping make the decisions that affect the state's tax structure. An audience will be present for the broadcast and will air live throughout the state.
The broadcast will be followed up with Study Circles on Nov. 11 and 18 to allow citizens to come together in small, democratic, highly participatory discussions around the topic of taxes.
A report will be compiled form all of the discussions and provided to the members of the Arkansas general assembly.
Local volunteers from each part of Mississippi County have volunteered to help coordinate the Study Circles which will be held at three locations throughout the county.
Heather Dethero and Diane Vibhaker, Study Circles Coordinators, conducted an organizing Clinic on Sept. 24 at the Arkansas Northeastern College. Attending the clinic were Dave Freeze, Mary Jon Ashley and Revis Blaylock, Manila; Stan Williams, Gosnell; Milton Washington, Osceola; Vickie Richardson of Blytheville. Other volunteers serving on the committee include Charles Sanders of Blytheville, Pastor Barbara Pool of Blytehville, Chuck Ryan of Armorel, Debbie Williams of Osceola; Cliff Chitwood of Blytheville, Randy Veach of Manila, Dale Poag of Manila, Robin Myers of Blytheville.
Area citizens will be asked to take part in the Study Circles that will be held on Nov. 11 and Nov. 18 at three different sites throughout the county. Participants will be asked to watch the broadcast on Nov. 4 of Speak Up! Arkansas on Taxes. Booklets on Arkansas taxes and the services provided through taxes will be available to participants of the Study Circle.
The project is open to anyone that would like to participate. Interested persons in taking part in the Study Circle can contact Dave Freeze at the Mississippi County Extension Office or any member of the study group.