The Coalition of Little Rock Neighborhoods voted yesterday to support the Little Rock School District millage extension on the ballot on Nov. 2 and a Central Arkansas Library System property tax vote on Nov. 9.
Amen to both.
The school district’s facility needs are critical. Extending the millage (without raising the tax rate) will provide millions for that work, beginning with the new elementary-junior high in Southwest Little Rock.
The library system is strapped for operating costs, which this half-mill tax increase will support. If it passes, the coalition reports, the library system hopes to reduce the system’s capital tax rate by an equivalent amount to keep the overall tax rate at the current rate.
Make plans to help. Early voting for the Nov. 2 school election begins Oct. 26. Early voting for the Nov. 9 library election will begin Nov. 2. Voting information can be found at the Pulaski County Election Commission website.
Kathy Wells, president of the Coalition, sent this message with the announcement of the two endorsements:
Nate Coulter, library director, told CLRN they intended to cut their millage in the spring by the same 0.5 mills and end with the same millage level as today, The library directors need more money for operations, but do not need the capital millage so high, now their building campaign is finished, he said, so they planned this swap of one type of tax for the other. his handout went to all this week detailing planned expenditure of the $2.4 million that would be generated from the 0.5 mill increase. He noted that would cost $10 more annually on the value of a $100,000 house.
Baker Kurrus, a former school superintendent and former school board member, analyzed, then endorsed this millage extension to refinance school capital construction debt and provide $300 million to repair existing structures and build new schools. that handout went to all this week.
Kurrus did raise questions we shall pursue about the long-range plans of the district in relation to the challenge of declining enrollment and half-full school buildings, and the state plan for charter schools in future. Kurrus called today’s Little Rock schools a dual system of high-achieving students attracted to charter schools, while pupils with challenges remain in public schools, and said that was the wrong way to educate our children.
I asked Nate Coulter to elaborate on news of a hope to offset the operational millage increase with a reduction in the capital millage. He told me today:
I have said to CALS board and others that we should ask voters to consider cutting the capital millage by the same 0.5 mills next year so that all or most of the operational increase, if approved November 9, would be washed out.
The precise amount of the millage reduction could hinge on interest rates at the time since that capital millage is dedicated to paying out general obligation bonds, but the aim would be to lower the library property tax in LR by the same amount sometime next year.