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Voters will decide how to spend tax money

Posted: June 11, 2014 - 5:55pm

An opportunity to receive about $20 million is what the Conway City Council is hoping the public will decide in September when a special election will be held to decide if the tax rededication can be used for special bonds to finish road work near several planned projects.

The council approved the election date of Sept. 9, and during the election, voters will decide on two separate measures, one of refunding prior bonds and one on street improvement bonds.

“We would be able to add $19 or $20 million to dedicate to these projects, and we will be able to do everything we need to do,” said Conway Mayor Tab Townsell. “We would be taking the existing 1/8 cent tax and rededicating it. It has worked for us before.”

Townsell said in a previous committee meeting that the best chance to achieve the projects is through the bond issue election. If it were to pass, the city would be able to commit what they needed to the Arkansas Highway Department for the new street projects near the proposed Central Landing shopping center.

Other projects, such as finishing Western Loop, would be funded with the new bonds. Older bod payments would be made as well.

“Everything is tied up in this bond issue,” Townsell said.

Eventually, a new exit from Interstate 40 would be constructed, which would lead to Central Landing and be another avenue to Conway Commons on the north side.

The proposal is rededicating a 1/8 cent sales tax that is currently bonded until 2021. Municipal bonds can, and usually do, allow a city to borrow beyond five years. Through rededicating this 1/8 cent sales tax income stream the city could build the roads, but it would tie up this income stream until 2044. Also, rededicating this money would have to be approved by the voters of Conway.

If the voters don’t approve the rededication, it’s likely that the Central Landing deal could fall through. This would also be chaotic for the construction schedule at the new airport being built in the Lollie Bottoms, because the current phase of construction there is being funded by a $6.1 million loan.

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