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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T. WAMPLER Savanna Thornton carries a dog to the outdoor area of the Springdale Animal Shelter Monday Nov. 20, 2017. Thornton works at the shelter.

SPRINGDALE -- A $200 million bond issue proposal would go before Springdale city voters in a Feb. 13 special election under a timetable presented Monday for the City Council's consideration.

The proposed bond issue would extend the city's 1 percent sales tax, pay off current bonds and issue new bonds. Under the proposal, the city would split the proposed bond issue into six portions. The city would only issue bonds for the measures that passed, which means the amount issued could range from nothing if voters reject all portions to $200 million if all measures pass.

Financial advisers from Crews and Associates and from Stephens Inc., which are both investment banking firms, told the council that $186.7 million in new issue bonds would be sold and that refinancing existing debt and other savings would make up the rest of the estimated $200 million the issue would make available for capital improvements.

Final numbers could not be locked in until bonds were sold and the interest rate was set, which would happen sometime in mid-April under the proposed timetable. As of Monday, the estimate was that the bond issue would raise:

• $71.4 million for street improvements.

• $47.4 million to refinance existing debt.

• $40.8 million for a new criminal justice center and renovating the city's administration building.

• $19.4 million for city parks and trails.

• $16.4 million for the Fire Department for three new fire stations.

• $5.2 million to either renovate or replace the city's animal shelter.

Those six categories are the six issues voters will take up if the council approves a special election as it is proposed. The council, which met as a committee of the whole at City Hall Monday night, tentatively agreed to take up the bond proposal at the next scheduled council meeting Tuesday.

The council had hoped to acquire new police cars with bond financing, but that might require adding that proposal as a separate, seventh bond category for voter consideration, Mayor Doug Sprouse told council members. Mixing the criminal justice center and equipment for that permanent structure might be too dissimilar with out-of-building vehicles to be legally mixed together, the city's bond counsel believes, according to Sprouse. The issue is still under review. Council members balked at adding a seventh category to the bond issue, saying they will pay for new police cars out of other city funds if the vehicles cannot be included in the bond issue as it is structured now.

Wyman Morgan, city director of administration and finance, warned council members that paying for new vehicles without bond proceeds could strain the city's cash flow. Council members agreed to commit to buying the vehicles even if it means dipping into the city's $4 million in reserve funds and restoring that money to the reserve later, as cash flow allows. Hopefully, that will not be necessary and a way can be found to include the purchase in the bond issue, Sprouse said.

The proposed budget also included 2 percent raises for the mayor, the city clerk and the city attorney. The council rejected a proposal for a similar increase for themselves.

Metro on 11/25/2017

Print Headline: Vote decision near in Springdale

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