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— The Decatur School DistrictÃ-s portion of the more than $1.4 million in undistributed Benton County Property tax is approximately $12,000, according to superintendent Leroy Ortman.

According to Benton County Tax Collector Gloria Peterson, $1,417,654.30 in undistributed taxes were recently found in five bank accounts. The taxes were for 2006 and 2007, which means the money was collected in 2007 and 2008, but was never dispersed.

For every property tax dollar, 80 cents goes to school districts, 10 cents goes to city governments, 8 cents goes to county governments and 2 cents to county and city roads, according to a report from the Benton County Daily Record.

The percentage of tax each school district receives is based on the assessed value of the property within the district, Ortman explained. Decatur is smaller in square miles and generally has lower property values than neighboring districts like Gravette, which has assessed values seven or eight times higher than Decatur, he said.

Even though DecaturÃ-s portion of the $1.4 million is around $12,000, there is a possibility the money could go to the state rather than the school district. Ortman explained that the state insures the school district will receive 98 percent of their portion of the property taxes. If local collections fall short because of unpaid taxes, the state reimburses the district for the remaining amount.

Ortman estimated the state had to make up for $46,000 of unpaid taxes last year and $44,000 the previous year. Even though the recently found tax dollars could go to the state, Ortman said itÃ-s his understanding of the law that they will go to the district.

ÃIÃ-m not all that concerned about it. Of course we would welcome $12,000, but IÃ-m not going to spend it until itÃ-s in the bank,î Ortman said.

Jeff Mores of the Benton County Daily Record contributed information for this article.

News, Pages 1 on 08/26/2009

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