The Central Arkansas Library System is planning a special election in March on a $32 million bond issue. It would pay off a 2004 bond issue and provide $17 million or more for expansion of the Arkansas Studies Institute, buy land in West Little Rock for a new library and pay for books, computers and other items.
Library Director Bobby Roberts had hoped to hold the election last summer, but agreed to delay it so it wouldn't conflict with the recent Little Rock sales tax election, in which voters approved a total of a penny in new taxes.
Thanks in part to a decline in interest rates, the library will be asking voters not for a property tax increase but to DECREASE the millage from 1 mill to .9 of a mill. A positive vote will extend the period of the debt, however. The 2004 bonds otherwise would be paid off in 2024.
Roberts hasn't made a public announcement about the election, but the Coalition of Neighborhood Libraries asked the state Ethics Commission Oct. 7 to be returned to active status. The committee has worked for previous CALS ballot issues and it said it would begin raising money this month in anticipation of a March 2012 election. Roberts was out of pocket this afternoon, but a library employee said Roberts told the Library Board yesterday that he planned to move ahead with plans for a March election unless there were objections. There were none.
It's unclear if the bond issue amount remains the same and how much will remain for library purposes once old debt is paid off. The specific date in March is unclear.