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Bentonville voters pass bond questions

by Mike Jones | April 14, 2021 at 7:20 a.m.
Alexandra Odesskiy (cq), casts her ballot on Tuesday April 13 2021 during the Bentonville bond issue election. She brought her son, Daniel (right), 9, with her to watch the voting process at First Landmark Missionary Baptist church in Bentonville. Go to nwaonline.com/210414Daily/ to see more photos. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

BENTONVILLE -- The city will have $266 million to spend on streets, parks and other projects after residents overwhelmingly approved a bond issue Tuesday.

Voters gave a resounding OK to all nine questions on the special-election ballot.

The city asked voters to approve bonds for capital projects and for money to refund existing bonds to be financed by extending a 1% city sales tax.

"We know the city of Bentonville is one of the fastest growing in the nation," Mayor Stephanie Orman said. "We appreciate that our citizens are making the investment for the continuation of the 1-cent sales tax for needed infrastructure,

public safety and efficiency improvements.

"I am thankful for people putting their trust in us to move needed projects forward for the city of Bentonville. We all know that Bentonville is a great place to live, work and play and we look forward to continuing our work to keep our city moving forward. I am proud to serve as mayor of Bentonville and proud of our citizens for stepping up and voting for these much-needed improvements."

Questions 1 and 2 on the ballot had to pass for any of the other projects, even if approved, to be paid for with bonds.

Final, but unofficial vote totals are:

• Question 1: Extend 1% sales tax to support new bond issue; 886 for (78%), 246 against (22%).

• Question 2: Refund existing bonds, $23 million; 890 for (79%), 235 against (21%).

• Question 3: Streets, $173.5 million; 925 for (82%), 206 against (18%).

• Question 4: Parks and recreation, $32.75 million; 900 for (80%), 231 against (20%).

• Question 5: Radio communications $6.6 million; 863 for (76%), 269 against (24%).

• Question 6: Police, $1.65 million; 859 for (76%), 273 against (24%).

• Question 7: Fire, $3.9 million; 939 for (83%), 193 against (17%).

• Question 8: Drainage, $19.75 million; 913 for (81%), 219 against (19%).

• Question 9: Library, $4.97 million; 875 for (77%), 257 against (23%).

There were 1,134 ballots cast. The turnout was 3.79%. The city has 29,942 registered voters.

"The citizens of Bentonville have again shown their support for improving and expanding our street infrastructure as well as citywide drainage, emergency services, parks and library," Councilman Chris Sooter said. "Today's vote, along with significant private development projects, will move our city forward to its brightest future yet."

The 1% sales tax was approved in 2003 and 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, said Jake Harper, city director of finance and administration.

The 1% sales tax brought in $16.9 million last year, he said. It will now expire in 2046. It was set to expire in 2032.

"Today is a great day for Bentonville," Councilman Tim Robinson said. "We will look back on this decision a decade from now and say, 'I can't imagine Bentonville without this park or that street.' We say that today about the projects the last bond helped us complete."

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 city could see a bond interest rate of between 3% and 5%, said Kevin Faught, the city's bond adviser. The schedule is to offer the bonds for sale June 21, Faught said.

Voters in the other large cities in Northwest Arkansas passed ballot measures in 2018 and 2019 extending sales taxes to repay outstanding bonds and issue new ones for a variety of projects.

The election results still must be certified by the Benton County Election Commission.

Mike Jones may be reached by email at [email protected]

Tom Hough (right) signs in Tuesday April 13 2021 to vote in the Bentonville Bond Election. Hough voted at First Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Bentonville. Go to nwaonline.com/210414Daily/ to see more photos.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Tom Hough (right) signs in Tuesday April 13 2021 to vote in the Bentonville Bond Election. Hough voted at First Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Bentonville. Go to nwaonline.com/210414Daily/ to see more photos. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Buddy Yingst and his wife, Mary Yingst, vote Tuesday April 13 2021 during the Bentonville bond election. The Yingsts voted at First Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Bentonville. Go to nwaonline.com/210414Daily/ to see more photos.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Buddy Yingst and his wife, Mary Yingst, vote Tuesday April 13 2021 during the Bentonville bond election. The Yingsts voted at First Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Bentonville. Go to nwaonline.com/210414Daily/ to see more photos. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
A voter signs in to cast a ballot on Tuesday at First Landmark Missionary Baptist Church during the Bentonville bond election. Go to nwaonline.com/210414Daily/ to see more photos.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
A voter signs in to cast a ballot on Tuesday at First Landmark Missionary Baptist Church during the Bentonville bond election. Go to nwaonline.com/210414Daily/ to see more photos. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
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