Editor's Note: This version corrects an earlier version that incorrectly listed Simmons Bank as the financial adviser to the city.
Financial advisers for the City of Pine Bluff on Monday re-sold bonds originally issued in 2011 in a move expected to save nearly $1 million over the life of the city’s bond payments.
Representatives from Stephens, Inc. had suggested the city issue another bond sale to replace the original sale in order to take advantage of lower interest rates. A Stephens official on Friday compared the action to re-financing a home mortgage.
The bond sale occurred Monday morning, and the Pine Bluff City Council passed an ordinance at its regular meeting Monday night to accept and execute the sale to bond buyers.
The 2011 bonds were issued after voters approved a five-eighths cent sales tax to purchase equipment for the fire, parks and street departments, as well as build a new fire station and a splash park, along with partially funding an aquatic and multi-purpose center. Sewer improvements were also funded by the initiative. The city is scheduled to make bond payments until Oct. 1, 2036.
Following the Monday re-sale at the lower interest rate, the city is now projected to pay $993,477.09 less than it would have under the old interest rate. Steve Miller, director of the city’s Finance Department, said the savings could be applied toward the city’s payments of other bond issues.
Leigh Ann Biernat, senior vice president in the public finance department at Stephens, Inc., said the re-sale was years in the making.
“We’ve been watching the 2011 bonds for a re-funding opportunity for some time,” Biernat said. “The opportunity presented itself, and last year the City Council authorized the issuance of re-funding bonds.”
The re-sale actually garnered savings of about $18,000 more than Stephens had projected going into Monday, Biernat said. The new bond issue will close in July, and funds from it would be used to pay off the old issue. Then the city’s new payment, with a lower interest rate, would begin.
In other news at the City Council’s Monday meeting, an ordinance that would restore the Animal Control Department to Police Department oversight was tabled for consideration until a future meeting.
Alderman Win Trafford, who sponsored the ordinance with Alderman Bill Brumett, said they delayed a vote on the ordinance to give other council members time to learn about why the change would be made.
The council accepted a budget adjustment of more than $15,000 to add to the city’s summer youth employment program. Stephen Bronskill, an aide to Mayor Shirley Washington, led an effort to raise funds from the business community to increase paid slots in the program, which typically employs about 150 young people. The extra funding, which totaled $15,229, will allow 15 more young people to take part in the summer jobs program.
The city received contributions of more than $1,000 each from Liberty Utilities, Sissy’s Log Cabin, Washington Construction, Agents Mutual Insurance, ASC, St. Luke, Eighth Avenue Missionary Baptist, Codney Washington and Skateland, and Jefferson Regional Medical Center. State Farm, First Assembly of God, Erick and Versie Biley, Ivan Whitfield and Irene Holcomb contributed between $100 and $570 each.
Alderman Bruce Lockett tabled his proposed ordinance to establish a citywide registry of vacant buildings, and asked that the idea be sent to the council’s Economic and Community Development Committee for further study. The council voted in favor of Lockett’s request to form a citywide task force to address blight.
“I want to tackle this as a community-wide issue,” Lockett said. “See what we can do to either rehabilitate, maintain, or repurpose deteriorating structures.”
William D. Moss was appointed to the at-large seat of the city’s Advertising and Promotion Commission to replace Trafford. Trafford served in the position prior to his election to the City Council.
Fellow Alderman Steven Mays had criticized Trafford for continuing to serve on the commission after he took office at the city on Jan. 1. Two seats on the commission are reserved specifically for council members, separate from the at-large seat.
The council also voted to adopt an updated hazard mitigation plan for Jefferson County passed by the Jefferson County Quorum Court. In addition, the council adopted a resolution designating July 3 as a holiday for city employees and rescheduled a council meeting planned for that day to July 5.
The council adopted a resolution authorizing the mayor to apply for grant funds from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism’s outdoor recreation grant program. And it appointed Ethel Cogshell to the board of trustees of the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library System.