Trustees of National Park Community College last week postponed an April property tax election until its bond counsel can determine if the revenue can be used for capital improvements.

The college in Hot Springs wanted to ask Garland County voters for a 2.2 mill tax to fund up to $13 million of capital improvements. The county election commission set an April 10 election date, but trustees voted last week to wait.

The attorney told trustees that a 1977 state law allows community colleges to seek a rate increase for operations, but does not specify if the tax can support capital projects. The college currently levies a 0.8 mill tax for operations.

School president Sally Carder said the college needs the money to cope with enrollment growth, but the legal question must be resolved before an election.

“We may be being cautious, but this is an important request and we want to make sure there’s nothing on the front end that would prevent it from moving forward,” Carder said.

Trustee Mahlon Grigsby said the school will ask the state Legislature to clarify the law in 2013. The 2012 session is limited to state budget issues.

“While the interpretation of the law is unclear, we felt we had no choice but to let the Legislature correct the problem before we proceed,” Grigsby said.

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