Park revenue bonds
Park revenue bonds may be issued by the City of Little Rock to fund improvements to parks infrastructure in the city.
The purchase of 26 acres of land on the east side of downtown Little Rock for the Clinton Library was accomplished by the sale of park revenue bonds. Initially, the City of Little Rock Board of Directors had hoped a one-cent increase in the local hamburger tax would accomplish this goal. The proposed hike in hamburger taxes was shelved on December 3, 1997, in favor of the revenue bond plan.
On March 17, 1998 the Little Rock Board of Directors voted to approve $16.5 million in revenue bonds to purchase land for the presidential center. Approximately $11 million of the bond issue was used to purchase ten parcels of land east of I-30 on the south bank of the Arkansas River.
On April 10, 1998 Empower Arkansas was organized to block the revenue bond issue. In June 1998 Little Rock's Stephens Inc. begins issuing revenue bonds for Library site purchase. Stephens Inc. charged $132,000 for the public issue of the bonds. The bond sale was administered for the city by finance director Harold E. Boldt.
Between January and March 2001 the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas and Arkansas Supreme Court heard arguments that the City of Little Rock illegally issued revenue bonds for the Clinton Library. The basis of this argument was that the bonds would be secured with increases in greens fees at local public golf courses and higher ticket prices at the Little Rock Zoo. These entities would not derive proportionate returns in terms of bond revenues. The maneuver allowed the City of Little Rock to sell bonds without the general referendum required in the issuance of general obligation bonds. Annual debt service on the bonds is approximately $1.3 million.
- "Bonds for Clinton Library," American Libraries 29.5 (May 1998): 26.
- "A Home for Bill's Books," Economist, December 6, 1997.
- Darrell Preston, "Little Rock to Use Park Revenue Bonds to Buy Land for Clinton Library Site," Bond Buyer, 322 (December 10, 1997): 31.
- Kevin Sack, "Testing of a President: The Legacy; As Clinton Library is Planned, Tough Questions Abound," New York Times, September 13, 1998.
- Lisa Sanders, "Little Rock Plans Deal for Clinton Library, Among Other Things," Bond Buyer, 323 (March 24, 1998): 30.