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Illegal Taxes Collected by Russellville Fire District?

An elected official in Pope County says hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes have been illegally collected from property owners, and now he says he has an attorney general opinion to prove it.
POPE COUNTY, AR - "What they're doing is illegal but they don't care," says Pope County Justice of the Peace David Ivy.

Two years ago, the Crow Mountain Fire Department was in dire straights. Fees for property owners hadn't been raised since the department was first established in the early 1980's.

"I'll be the first to admit that you can do in 2014 what you did in 1982 on $20 a year, that's not realistic," says Ivy.

But David Ivy says the solution reached by the department's governing board went too far.

"The people in the district are upset because the rates have gone up 400%," says Ivy.

And Ivy says he now has an attorney general's opinion saying the increase is a violation of state law.

"It says the maximum assessed benefits which may be levied."

Ivy asked whether increasing past the voter approved maximum was legal, Monday he read from the attorney general's opinion.

"In my opinion the answer to this question is no."

In the two years after the increase was approved Ivy says 2,200 property owners in the district have paid up to $240,000 in additional fees.

"I'm going to ask for a refund, my opinion they illegally assessed me."

The Crow Mountain Fire Protection District is made up of volunteer firefighters.

Their Chief Greg Standridge issued a statement today that reads, in part, quote:

"The Crow Mountain Fire Protection district board voted to raise the dues, for the first time since it was established in 1982. The board acted under the advisement of their attorney. It is the attorney's opinion that the fees can be raised or lowered on the board's responsibilities to accomplish the purposes of the district."
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