LR board to set election, issue bonds, hear about Uber and historic boarding house | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, May 2, 2015

LR board to set election, issue bonds, hear about Uber and historic boarding house

Posted By on Sat, May 2, 2015 at 6:54 AM

I peruse the coming Little Rock City Board most Saturday mornings for items of interest. Set for discussion at 67 p.m. Tuesday are several items of interest..

* LIBRARY ELECTION: The Board will set a special election July 14 on a proposal by the Central Arkansas Library System to refinance a $37 million library bond issue (with about $17 million in principal outstanding). The proposal will reduce the library property tax millage from  1 mill to .9 mill, but extend the repayment period.

* BONDS: The board will consider a resolution to approve $13 million in bonds to finance construction of a new headquarters for the American Taekwondo Association at 1800 Riverfront Drive. The organization is currently in Southwest Little Rock. It says it will add jobs with a new headquarters. The city and state have already promised $1.3 million in grants toward the work and has said the organization, which has a big tournament in Little Rock every year, was in danger of moving to Texas without inducements from Arkansas.  Municipally issued revenue bonds don't become obligations of the city, but they generally carry a lower interest rate for the beneficiary. They also qualify for tax exemptions, including property taxes. The agenda makes no mention of tax issues related to this bond issue, including whether it will be exempt from local property taxes or make an agreement for patents in lieu of taxes. I've sent a note to the city attorney about it.  UPDATE: The city attorney says there is an agreement relative to payments in lieu of taxes, but he's out of town and can't readily provide the document. I don't find it on city board agenda page so don't know how much the city and the company have agreed to pay relative to what taxes normally would be owed on a $13 million structure in the form of property tax milages.

* UBER ET ALLES: City Attorney Tom Carpenter is on the agenda for a report on "transportation network companies," otherwise known as Uber and Lyft and the like. I have sent a query on this, too, but I'd guess his report could be brief. After wrangling to produce a city ordinance to regulate such companies — which dispatch drivers through a phone app — the city was pre-empted in the recent legislative session. With little fanfare, Sen. Jason Rapert rammed through legislation developed by Uber and provided by its lobbyists to strip local governments of regulatory power and pu it  under the control of the state Public Service Commission. The minor pushback from cities was that state regulation wasn't as thorough (insurance, vehicle inspection, driver checks were among the points of contention). But the legislature largely followed the script provided by Uber's lobbyists.

* DEMOLITION: The Board has one structure up for demolition. It's at 1325 W. 12th and is owned by Narcissus Tyler. She's making a belated run at preserving the property, owned by her family since the 1960s. She says it is historic and shortly to be deemed such by the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas, thus deceiving of preservation. It was once used as a boarding house by black men who left farms to take city jobs to support families, Tyler says. She said it was also home to black Arkansas Travelers during the early days of desegregation of baseball in the 1960s, including Dick Allen, Ferguson Jenkins and Alex Johnson.  The city says it is dilapidated and the agenda proposes to use $4,500 from the demolition fund to take it down.


click to enlarge FORMER BOARD HOUSE: On West 12th.
  • FORMER BOARD HOUSE: On West 12th.

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