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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK Chris Gibson (from left), Springdale athletic field supervisor, Jason Williams, Austin Bersi and Jose Elizalde, all with the Parks and Recreation Department, work Tuesday on the bull pen area of the Springdale High School Baseball Field at Randall Tyson Recreational Complex in Springdale.

SPRINGDALE -- A new criminal justice center, animal shelter, fire stations, park facilities might be in the future for the city if residents approve a $2 million bond issue. The City Council voted 8-0 Tuesday night to put the question before the voters in a special election Feb. 13.

The proposed bond issue will extend the city's 1-cent sales tax, pay off current bonds and issue new bonds. Voters will be asked to approve the bond program as a whole, as well as issues for refinancing debt, street improvement, a new criminal justice center and renovating the city's administration building, improvement to parks and trails, three new fire stations and other improvements for the Fire Department and a new animal shelter.

Payday 2018

Annual compensation for Springdale elected officials and Planning Commission members.

• Mayor: $120,396

• City attorney: $110,298

• City clerk/treasurer: $84,345

• City Council members: $10,200

• Planning Commission members: $3,600

Source: Springdale

The city will issue bonds only for the measures passed, which means the amount issued could range from nothing, if the voters reject all portions of the $200 million if all measures pass.

Final numbers can't be solidified until bonds are sold and the interest rate set, which would be expected to happen in mid-April under the proposed timetable. At Tuesday's meeting, Crews & Associates presented estimates the bond issue would raise:

• $77.4 million for street improvements.

• $47.4 million for refinancing debt.

• $40.8 million for a criminal justice center and renovating the administration building.

• $19.4 million for city parks and trails

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

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

These recent figures reflect a change to the estimated street improvement fund, which was increased from estimates reported Nov. 20.

Sales tax revenue reports for September show a 15 percent increase in collections over September last year, giving the city an increased borrowing capacity, explained Wyman Morgan, director of finance and administration. The City Council earmarked any increases for street improvement, he said.

Also, if the increased income continues, the city will be able to pay off the debt on the bonds five years earlier than the expected 30-year time schedule, Morgan said.

Next, the ballot questions drafted by the council and city staff will be turned over to the Washington and Benton County Election Commission for approval, said Melissa Reeves, city public relations director. If approved, the commissions will prepare for the election.

"And we have now until February to educate the public about the bonds," Reeves said. "I want all the citizens of Springdale to research and get educated on this issue, and contact us if they have any questions. We want them to get out and vote and be engaged and be as involved as they can."

The council also approved 8-0 a total expenditure budget of $58,507,440 for 2018. The budget includes 2 percent raises for the mayor, city clerk, city attorney, which the council also approved unanimously.

"We try to budget very conservatively because we need to, it's the responsible way to budget, and this year is no different," Mayor Doug Sprouse said. "Traditionally, our revenues exceed our budget and our expenditures are below budget. Our departmental employees to a great job at watching their pennies."

In other business, the council voted to enter into a class-action lawsuit drafted by the Municipal League of Arkansas aimed at recouping cities' costs stemming from the current opioid crisis, as explained by Mark Hayes of the Municipal League. The suit will first target distributors and perhaps manufacturing companies, he said.

NW News on 11/29/2017

Print Headline: City council moves bond issue to ballot

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