The Central Arkansas Library System plans a March 2012 election to renew an existing bond program that will include a property tax decrease.
The plan outlined last week to the Little Rock City Council by library director Bobby Roberts would provide $19 million of new money and $16 million to refund library bonds issued in 2004. Voters would be asked to extend the property tax that supports the debt by five years.
“This one will not raise anyone’s taxes but it will extend them out,” Roberts said. Without the extension, the outstanding debt would mature in 2024.
The 1-mill tax approved in 2004 to support the original bonds would drop to 0.9 mills. Roberts said the tax would amount to $8 a year on a $200,000 home.
The library board approved the election proposal in October. Trustees in March discussed an election for 2011, but postponed the request until after the city’s sales tax election in September.
Roberts said the library system would use the bond proceeds to build a 350-seat auditorium and parking deck at the downtown main library, maintain existing facilities, and buy land for a new branch in west Little Rock.
The 150-space parking deck would be built so that it could later be enclosed to store archives of the Arkansas Studies Institute, Roberts said. The archives include papers of former governors and other important officials.
“When we built ASI, we never thought we’d be as successful as we were,” Roberts said. “We’re simply running out of storage space for manuscripts.”
Voters approved $17 million of bonds for the library in 1994. More bonds were approved in 1998 and 2004. The original 2-mill levy has been reduced to 1 mill.
The bonds issued by Little Rock for the library system are rated AA by Standard & Poor’s.