City & County

Clark County judge warns justices about cryptocurrency mining, suggests regulation

By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian

Local lawmakers this month will be considering a move to regulate any potential digital asset miners eyeing Clark County as a place to open up shop.

“If they end up in some type of residential neighborhood it [could] create problems.”

— Clark County Judge Troy Tucker

Cryptocurrency — digital money produced from a computer network and enormous amounts of electricity — has made its way into The Natural State after worldwide controversy. A Chinese ban on cryptocurrency mining forced a mass exodus of miners to other countries, including Russia and the U.S. The mining facilities create excessive noise, reportedly as loud as a tornado siren.

County Judge Troy Tucker said Monday during a quorum court meeting that he hopes to curb the potential for a cryptocurrency facility locating in Clark County.

“These bitcoin facilities are causing a lot of issues in some counties, so we’re trying to get ahead of it,” Tucker said of a drafted five-page ordinance he gave to justices of the peace.

A new state law enacted this past legislative session opened the doors for data centers to operate in Arkansas. The law “exempted [mining centers] from sales tax,” Tucker said, “so Arkansas may be an area they want to come to.”

KARK reported in May that a mining site was expected to operate in Vilonia, despite some public outcry from residents worried about the noise that comes with a mining center.

Troy Tucker

“Not that there will be one located [in Clark County],” Tucker said, “but if there is they can generate a lot of noise. If they end up in some type of residential neighborhood it [could] create problems.”

Tucker added that quorum courts “across the state” have approved similar ordinances regulating cryptocurrency centers. “At least if we pass an ordinance we would be ahead of it,” Tucker said.

Data mining centers do not employ many people, the judge noted. “It’s basically a building with thousands of computers,” he said.

The draft ordinance will be on the July agenda.

And all that’s to come

As Clark County is in the patch of the 2024 total solar eclipse, local meetings have been held concerning the unknown economical and tourism impacts the eclipse is expected to have on the area.

Judge Tucker said one recent meeting, held at Henderson State University, included more than a dozen people, including representation from DeGray Lake Resort State Park. Tucker said the state park is expecting an uptick in visitors for the eclipse, and there are already reservations made at the lodge during the event.

Classes will be dismissed for a flex day at Arkadelphia Public Schools during the eclipse, said District 5 Justice Jimmy King, who is also part of the school district’s administration.

Treasurer’s report

Treasurer Karen Arnold reported May’s sales tax receipts were $417,420, up $93,276 from the previous month and $2,207 over the same period in 2022. “I’m very glad to see this, as last month was below average,” Arnold said. “Hopefully, as we move into the summer months we will benefit from local tourism.”

The Economic Development Corp. of Clark County sales tax total was $208,710, also up over last month by $46,638 and last year by $1,103. The total remittance to the EDCCC after the Bond payment was $152,113.

Other business

In other business, justices unanimously approved a resolution authorizing county Clerk Tracy Rider to perform marriages. The court also approved an ordinance issuing a promissory note financing two new trash trucks. Tucker noted the ordinance is renewed every few years and allows the county to keep two new sanitation vehicles in operation.