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Senator talks issues in Paris

U.S. Sen, John Boozman, R-Arkansas, came to Paris Monday morning to talk issues with Logan County Judge Gus Young and Paris Mayor Daniel Rogers.

The two local officials voiced their feelings about local issues primarily. Boozman listened, took notes and spoke briefly.

Young started the 45-minute meeting at the Logan County Courthouse by thanking Boozman for his support for continued federal funding for the PILT program, which is Payment in Lieu of Taxes. Under this program, federal entities, such as the USDA Forest Service, make a payment in states where they own land instead of paying property taxes. This year, Arkansas got $6.3 million. Logan County got $260,000 of that.

“We had budgeted the money but if it hadn’t been funded, we would have $250,000 less in our budget,” Young told Boozman. “That’s something that’s going to be an ongoing thing.”

Funding for the program is appropriated annually and is classified as discretionary spending.

“Most of the things we deal with are discretionary spending,” Boozman said. “We have to explain every year the importance of these programs.”

Young also thanked Boozman for his support of funding the Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center located near Booneville.

“The reality is that the population is going to continue to grow,” Boozman said, “and wind up feeding a large part of it, so that research is important.”

Rogers discussed funding for senior citizens centers in the county, the USDA’s loan program which funds local projects and told Boozman about hearing concern over fuel and grocery prices from residents of Paris.

“We’re told we don’t have much inflation right now, but go to a food store,” Boozman said.

After the meeting ended, Boozman and staff members accompanying him drove to Fort Smith for an afternoon meeting at Cooper Clinic in Fort Smith to discuss heath issues and Obamacare.

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