Tuesday, February 28, 2017

TOP STORY >> Sherwood sells bonds for parks

Leader staff writer

Stephens, Inc. sold $5.5 million in bonds for Sherwood park improvements in about 90 minutes.

“They were well received,” Leigh Ann Biernatt with Stephens told the city council at its meeting Monday night. “When you have $2.75 available to cover every $1 you are borrowing, it makes it an easy sale.”

With the investment firm’s fees and other costs taken out, the city has about $5.3 million for at least three major projects that residents voted for back in November.

Residents voted not for a new tax but to redirect the 2 percent motel and prepared foods tax — which by ordinance is split between the parks and recreation department and the city’s advertising and promotion commission —to make the annual payments on the bonds.

The payments will run about $332,000.

The bonds were sold between 9 and 10:30 a.m. Monday in five separate units with interest rates ranging from 2.125 to 4 percent.

The funds will be used to construct a splash pad, new tennis court and soccer fields.

Alderman Mary Jo Heye asked about the other nine projects that were on the list, especially extending a wall at the recreation center to help with moisture issues from the pool.

Parks director Sonny Jansen said the voters approved the bond issue based on the top three projects, but he expected to have enough money left from the bond issue.

Residents approved redirecting the tax and selling bonds in the November general election by almost a 2 to 1 margin (9,313 votes for it and 4,752 votes against).

“We will spend wisely,” he told Heye and the rest of the council. “Once we have completed the top three projects, we will prioritize the other desired projects and see what we can do.”

There are also nine other parks improvement projects.

Jannsen said the parks department started with a list of about 20 projects, all stemming from a 2009 parks study.

The splash pad will include various water features that turn on and off. “There’s no constant flow and the water doesn’t get more than an inch or so deep at the most,” Jannsen said. “If someone falls, they might skin a knee but won’t drown.”

No locations have been locked in yet for the splash pad, tennis courts or soccer fields.

In other council business:

Aldermen approved a revamped ordinance for animal control, the first comprehensive update in 65 years, putting more teeth into the penalties and clarifying types and number of animals.

In related news, the animal shelter is sponsoring its spring event March 20-25 where all adoptions will be half-price. It will also sponsor its annual pet fair and fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 22 at Sherwood Forest.

The city council agreed to rezone property on Hunters Cove from R-1 (single-home residential) to C-4 (commercial with outside storage and display).

Aldermen also approved a change in the recently passed water and wastewater rates.

“We had wrong information listed for our out-of-city customers. Luckily, at this point we have no customers in that category, so no one was affected,” said city engineer Ellen Norvell.