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Bentonville proposal issue up for discussion tonight

by Mike Jones | April 8, 2021 at 7:00 a.m.
File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANTHONY REYES @NWATONYR The Bentonville City Hall building in downtown Bentonville.

BENTONVILLE -- City officials will discuss a $266 million bond proposal at a meeting tonight as early voting continues on the issue.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Community Center, 1101 S.W. Citizens Circle. Seating is limited to 50, according to a city news release. An online option to participate is available. To register online, residents can visit the city's Facebook page.

Mayor Stephanie Orman will give the presentation and city department heads will be on hand to answer questions, said Debbie Griffin, city community relations and economic development director. The meeting should run about 90 minutes, Griffin said.

Early voting started Tuesday and runs through Friday and again Monday. Election day is Tuesday.

Billie Shimoskie voted Wednesday. Shimoskie believes it's important to vote, she said. She expects a low voter turnout.

"I think everyone should vote to have a say in the decision-making," she said.

The city seeks up to $266 million in bonds for capital projects and bond refunding to be financed by extending a 1% city sales tax.

Streets; parks and recreation; new radio communications; police and fire training facilities; drainage upgrades; and a library expansion are among the projects on the ballot.

The largest project at $173.5 million would go to pay for more than 30 street and intersection improvements if the bond issue passes.

The question of paying off $23 million in outstanding bonds must pass in order for any of the proposed bond projects on the ballot to be funded, said Jake Harper, city director of finance and administration.

Bentonville voters in 2007 passed a $117.9 million bond issue. The city issued four series related to that issue -- 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2017, Harper said. The debt is from the last three series, he said.

The 1% sales tax was approved in 2003 and was extended in 2007.

Eighty percent of the revenue raised by the city's 1% sales tax for capital expenses goes to pay for bonds and 20% goes to ongoing needs. The city would maintain the same ratio if the sales tax is extended, Harper said.

The 1% sales tax brought in $16.9 million last year, he said. If approved, the 1% sales tax would expire in 2046. It's set to expire now in 2032.

Voters cast 158 ballots in the first two days of early voting, according to the Benton County Clerk's Office. The city has 29,955 registered voters.

Griffin said she hadn't heard of any organized opposition to the bond issue.

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The city has a website dedicated to the bond issue. It can be found at


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