Early voting begins Monday in Little Rock for the Central Arkansas Library System’s tax cut bond referendum

Early voting begins Monday in Little Rock for a May 24 special election on whether to lower the mileage rate related to capital improvements to Arkansas’ central library system and refinance debt.

Last fall, Little Rock voters approved a mileage rate increase for the library system that supports operations and maintenance. As a result, the rate went from 3.3 to 3.8 thousandths.

Now voters will be asked to reduce the mileage rate for capital improvements by a corresponding amount, from 1.8 mils to 1.3 mils.

Each mill equals the dollar amount of taxes paid on every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.

By refinancing its obligations, the library system hopes to generate more than $22 million in funding to pursue some improvements, according to its website.

Central Arkansas Library System executive director Nate Coulter estimated that refinancing outstanding general bonds would extend debt payments by about two years, meaning that if voters give their approval, the reissued bonds would be repaid. in about eight years instead of six. .

The extended capital improvement mile at the lower rate of 1.3 mills would be pledged as bonds for an aggregate principal amount of up to $42 million.

According to a “Frequently Asked Questions” article on the Library System website, under the question “Why is this only on the ballot in Little Rock?” the response read, “Little Rock residents went to the polls to vote on operational mileage last November because most of the library’s assets are in Little Rock and a large portion of the population in the area of service of the system resides in the city.”

“The measure passed with approximately 71% of the vote,” the response read. “This is an opportunity for us to honor our campaign promise to cut taxes in Little Rock by refinancing our bonds.”

The library system hopes to use the extra money to add a “state-of-the-art bookmobile,” upgrade technology infrastructure, complete interior renovations at the main library, and expand genealogy and technology offerings at The Butler. Center for Arkansas Studies, according to the website.

If the referendum fails, planned improvements to the main library could be scaled back, take much longer, or never happen at all, depending on the library system.

Officials want to move the Darragh Center to unused space on the fifth floor of the main library, repurpose the old Darragh space into an improved children’s area, and expand the community resources area, the website says.

Early voting at the Pulaski County Regional Building at 501 W. Markham St. in Little Rock runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The last day of early voting at the regional building will be May 23, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to the circuit’s website/Pulaski County Clerk.

Early voting will take place at additional locations from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday through May 21.

About Shirley L. Kreger

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