Tuesday, October 27, 2015

TOP STORY >> Library bonds sold in 2 hours

Leader staff writer

It only took two hours Monday for financial representatives for Sherwood to sell $6 million worth of bonds to cover the cost of the new library.

“We started at 10 and were finished by noon,” said Paul Phillips, the senior marketing director for Crews and Associates, “and we got good rates.”

The bonds, sold in segments, carry interest rates from 1.75 to 3.25 percent.

Phillips said the overall rate was 2.65 percent.

The 1.3-mill property tax voters approved for the library in November 2014 is expected to bringing in just under $600,000 per year, and the average annual payment on bonds from 2016 to 2030 is less than $300,000. There are two $1 million payments at the end of the bond period, in 2033 and 2036.

“Still, the revenues would allow the city to pay off the bonds six to seven years early,” Phillips said.

Taking off administrative costs, the city has $5.8 million to buy land, build and furnish the library.

The council approved the ordinance Monday night that provides for the issuance and sale, lists the due dues, interest rates and principal amounts.

The aldermen, in a unanimous decision at their September meeting, voted to build the new library on Johnson Drive near Sylvan Hills Middle School.

The site is a 14-acre tract priced at $960,000 — slightly under the $1 million budget for that part of the project.

The property is behind the Mapco gas station on Hwy. 107.

A committee that includes Mayor Virginia Young, City Attorney Steve Cobb, attorney Bill Spivey and Alderman Beverly Williams are negotiating the final price.

“I’m pleased to report that we will probably get the property for less than the original price,” Williams told the council Monday night, meaning more funds will be available for the construction and furnishing of the library.

The negotiations are expected to be completed soon.

Mayor Young said the next step is to see architectural drawings for the library. “There have been some generic drawings, but now the architect firm can come up with a design specific to the terrain and other characteristics for the property,” she said.

General plans call for the library to be about 14,500 square feet, have state-of-the-art technology and meeting rooms.

Originally, a 21-acre site surrounding by neighborhoods was recommended for the library, but residents in the area objected. After more meetings with the site selection committee and others, the council voted in September on the Johnson Drive site off Highway 107.

Aldermen Tim McMinn, Williams, Charlie Harmon, Mike Sanders and Marina Brooks said the Johnson Drive site was their first choice.

“I think that’s the best area for it, the best location, because of access to the school, traffic,” McMinn said then.

Williams said in September that the city’s branch manager had told her the location was a good option because the staff had been working to bring pre-teens and teenagers into the library.

Alderman Mary Jo Heye was not a fan of the library site.

She doesn’t like the fact that a gas station would be in front of the new library and, on Woodruff Avenue, the “showpiece” would have been “tucked away.”

In other council business:

Alderman approved an ordinance that allows Pulaski County to collect the 1.3-mill library tax as part of the real and personal property levy for the 2015 tax year.

Alderman Charlie Harmon told the council that a legal case in Gilbert, Ariz., killed all the work his committee had done over the past six months on the city’s sign ordinance. The court decision, he explained, has negated city sign ordinances across the country.

Harmon said the Inter-national Municipal Lawyers Association was working on a model ordinance that complied with the new law. “We are going to wait until that comes out and then adjust it to our needs,” he said.

The mayor reminded the council and those attending the meeting that the city’s annual Veteran’s Day Parade is set for 2 p.m. Sunday and would follow the same route as the Christmas Parade.

She also said the city’s Halloween Carnival is set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday and the Sherwood Youth Council’s haunted house would be open Friday and Saturday at Sherwood Forest, 1111 W. Maryland Ave.

Aldermen Tim McMinn reminded everyone that the first-ever Sherwood Kids Olympics was slated for 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 7 at Sylvan Hills Community Church.

He said the entry fee to participate was canned food, boxes of cereal or other non-perishable food items to help Sherwood’s hungry.

Mary Ann Modern was appointed to fill the unexpired term of former Alderman Steve Fender on the Senior Citizens Committee.