A bill under consideration in the state legislature would change the person in charge of collecting taxes in Ouachita County.
House bill 1517 would separate the offices of county sheriff and tax collector, and reassign the collection duties to the Ouachita County Treasurer.
Rep. Wade Andrews, R-Camden, filed the bill with co-sponsor Sen. Matt Stone, R-Camden, and Rep. Sonia Barker, R-Smackover.
County Judge Robert McAdoo said Sheriff David Norwood suggested the change to him.
"The sheriff's office used to be right next door to the collector's office here, but now that the sheriff's department is out there where it's at now, there's not such a closeness for supervision and question-and-answering and that kind of stuff," McAdoo said.
Johnson, Lafayette, Monroe, Pulaski and Sebastian counties currently have a collector-treasurer system. St. Francis County, like Ouachita, has a sheriff-collector system in place.
"The sheriff's over there at the jail across town, while Ms. (Melissa) Chambers (Ouachita County Treasurer), she's right across the hall, so it's a lot easier for the treasurer to supervisor those collector employees versus the sheriff himself," Andrews said.
HB 1517 passed the state House on March 9 unanimously, with four members not voting. The bill was set to be considered again on Tuesday by the state Senate's City, County and Local Affairs committee.
According to the bill, in the 2026 election, Ouachita County voters will elect a standalone sheriff and a tax collector-treasurer. After that, Ouachita County will officially have a collector-treasurer system.
"The judge was wanting this to take place immediately, but we ran into some constitutional issues, so it won't take effect until January 1, 2027. In the '26 election, that's when you elect a standalone sheriff and treasurer-collector," Andrews said.
McAdoo said Chambers, Sheriff David Norwood and the Ouachita County Quorum Court were all in agreement that a collector-treasurer system would be better than the current one.
"A lot of (counties) now have a collector that's standalone, but you know, that would be another salary, more benefits, that kind of stuff – additional cost to the county," McAdoo said.
If the bill passes the City, County and Local Affairs committee, it will go on to be considered by the whole state Senate.
Bradly Gill contributed reporting.