Pine Bluff, Ark., officials officials on Friday listened to a presentation from representatives of Stephens Inc. to restructure bonds related to a sales tax approved by voters in 2011 to fund construction of an aquatic center and downtown street improvements.

Jack Truemper and Leigh Ann Biernat, both senior vice-presidents in Stephens' public finance department, presented the information Friday morning to the City Council's Ways and Means Committee.

Truemper and Biernat explained how they intend to sell new bonds to take advantage of lower interest rates and reduce the city's annual debt service payment. Truemper said the move was similar to re-financing a mortgage for a home.

Pine Bluff, Ark., civic center.
Pine Bluff, Ark., civic center. Valis55, via Wikimedia Commons

The city's total debt service for the 2011 bonds is $9,248,988.87. If the bond issue sold Monday meets projections, the Stephens representatives expect to pay off the current bond issue and be left with a new debt service of $8,274,413.60 for the 2017 bonds. In that scenario, the city would save $974,575.27 through reduced annual payments. The debt service for both bond issues is scheduled to be retired on Oct. 1, 2036, Truemper said. He said he had been in discussions with Miller and former Mayor Debe Hollingsworth last year about the potential for restructuring the bond issue. The technical term for the restructuring is "re-funding" the bond issue, he said.

The Stephens representatives plan to sell the new bonds to buyers between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Monday, June 19. If the Stephens representatives get the price they are seeking for the new bonds, the City Council is expected to authorize the sale in a resolution at its meeting at 5:30 p.m. that day. If the bonds do not fetch the desired price, the sale can be voided at no cost to the city, Truemper said.

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