LITTLE ROCK — The County Judges' Association of Arkansas voted Friday to oppose a ballot proposal that would raise the severance tax on natural gas from 5 percent to 7 percent.

LITTLE ROCK — The County Judges’ Association of Arkansas voted Friday to oppose a ballot proposal that would raise the severance tax on natural gas from 5 percent to 7 percent.

“We’ve seen firsthand the positive impact natural gas production has had on our counties, our communities, and on the lives of our citizens,” Faulkner County Judge Preston Scroggin, president of the association, said in a release.

The resolution opposing a proposed initiated act by former gas executive Sheffield Nelson was approved unanimously during association’s winter conference in North Little Rock.

Scroggin said raising the severance tax from 5 percent to 7 percent would give Arkansas one of the highest natural gas severance tax rates in the country and make it hard to compete with surrounding states for jobs and economic development.

Nelson is currently trying to gather at least 62,507 signatures by July 6 to qualify the measure for the general election.

He estimates the severance increase would generate about $250 million annually, with the first $20 million going directly to cities for their road needs.

Nelson said he was not surprised by the association’s vote because Scroggin is a county judge in the Fayetteville Shale Play area, as was Conway County Judge Jimmy Hart, who was president of the association last year.

“What you are talking about is elected officials who don’t think the people should have the right to vote on this,” Nelson said.

The Arkansas Municipal League has endorsed the proposal.