State Closes Wild River Country for Nonpayment of Taxes

The Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration closed the Wild River Country water park in North Little Rock on Friday for nonpayment of sales taxes.

Wild River Country, which is the subject of a $3.2 million foreclosure lawsuit filed by Community Bank of Cabot, had not forwarded sales tax collections to the state since August, according to Tom Atchley, excise tax administrator for DF&A. It is the first business to be closed under the terms of Act 46 of 2003, which took effect July 1.

Act 46 gives DF&A power to close any business that failed to file and pay state and local sales and use taxes for three months in a fiscal year. The first round of delinquency notices under the new law were mailed in November to about 3,800 businesses that didn't file in August, September and October for collections made in July, August and September, Atchley said.

Most eventually brought their tax payments up to date, he said, but over the last two weeks, closure orders that included a five-day grace period were served to about 40 businesses. Of those, only Wild River Country failed to either pay, make arrangements to pay or request an administrative hearing.

About 80 more closure orders are expected to be served within the next two weeks.

Wild River Country, which is closed for the season, cannot reopen until the tax debt is paid.

"This is just the beginning of a continuing process," Atchley said.

Wild River Country is owned by Halcyon Attractions of Toronto. Vice President Phil Helms did not return a call seeking comment on Friday afternoon.