Ark. senator proposes tax hike for forestry agency

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A Hot Springs senator has proposed an increase in the tax that private timberland owners pay to help the financially troubled Arkansas Forestry Commission.

Republican Sen. Bill Sample filed legislation Monday that would increase the fire protection tax from 15 cents an acre to 20 cents an acre. The tax increase would be effective for assessment years beginning on and after 2013.

The proposal comes nearly a year after the commission's director resigned over questions about the commission's finances. The commission laid off 34 employees, although the state later announced plans to reinstate 15 firefighter positions it had cut.

Commission officials last year said raising the tax by a nickel could bring nearly $700,000 a year in additional money.

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