The Central Arkansas Library System is beginning work to enlist public support to refinance bonds to allow library construction projects. This would require a vote approving extension of a property tax for the bonds approved in 2003 for seven years. Library Director Bobby Roberts has crafted a sweetener, a small reduction in the existing property tax rate of 1 mill, to nine-tenths of a mill.
CALS will hold a meeting about the idea at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, at the Thompson Library, 38 Rahling Circle.
The proposal would produce $17 million. Of this, said the library, $4 million would be used to purchase books, audiobooks, eBooks, Internet databases, and computers; $10 million to add manuscript storage space and a 350-seat auditorium on the Main Library campus in the River Market District; $2 million to expand the McMath Library on John Barrow Road by approximately 3,000 sq. feet; and $1 million to purchase land for a future library in west Little Rock.
The library tax vote would be at a special election, probably this summer.
FURTHER THOUGHT: The city may be in the market for a sales tax increase this summer, too. And the Wastewater Utility is badly — and legitimately — in the need of a sewer rate increase. And before long renewal of Advertising and Promotion Commission bonds to maintain city facilities will be under consideration. In every case, it will be about need, leadership and credibility. Against difficult economic times and a sometimes paranoid electorate.