Mayor Mark Stodola, in his State of the City address at noon today in the Dunbar Community Center gymnasium, said he would ask the City Board of Directors to refer to the voters a vote to continue the capital improvements millage that would otherwise expire this year. Because of growth in property taxes, the city will be able to pay off the bonds this year, seven years sooner than the slated 15-year payoff.
The millage, voted in the 2003 bond election, is 3.3 percent; Stodola says if it's renewed at 3 percent, as he hopes the board will request, the bonds would produce $105 million that could be applied toward street, roadway and drainage improvements. The millage has been in existence since 1958, the mayor said.
Yes, the capital portion of the new penny sales tax will produce $72 million over 10 years for roads, but that's a drop in the bucket of the $700 million that would be needed to address all the projects citizens have asked for, Stodola said.
Other points in the mayor's speech:
— Felony crimes are up this year by a small percentage, but at 18,000 offenses, far below the 29,000 reported in 1992. Police Chief Stuart Thomas is overseeing a collaboration of the Quiet Nights Street Unit with the Detective Division to address violent and property crimes.
— Fire Chief Gregory Summers has established Spanish immersion classes for all line personnel and an EMS bicycle life-saving team to be used a major events like Riverfest and the Marathon.
— Clinton School focus groups have learned that the homeless are interested in getting jobs at the Port of Little Rock, which, the mayor said, indicates that Confederate Boulevard is an "excellent location" for the "soon-to-be built" homeless shelter in the old Union Rescue Mission building.
— Gallup ranks Little Rock as the 6th Happiest City in America. "Keep smiling," Stodola said.
Full text of the address here.