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Board OKs pursuing animal shelter financing

Board OKs pursuing animal shelter financing

May 21st, 2019 by Karl Richter in Texarkana News

City Manager Kenny Haskin may explore options for financing an animal shelter overhaul, the Texarkana, Ark., Board of Directors decided Monday.

The Board unanimously passed a resolution authorizing Haskin to seek proposals for financing an estimated $875,000 in improvements to the Texarkana Animal Care and Adoption Center.

"It's something that really needs to be looked at hard," Animal Services Director Charles Lokey told the Board.

Saying it has been "on life support for several years," Lokey described conditions at the shelter, much of which was first built in the early 1960s. Flooding and frequent electrical outages are problems, as is difficulty in cleaning and disinfecting the older parts of the shelter, and the situation poses health risks for animals, volunteers and employees, he said.

Lokey has developed a new design plan for the shelter he called "tried and true."

"This is a problem that's not going to go away," Mayor Allen Brown said, emphasizing that the resolution does not OK any action beyond exploring options.

Haskin plans to seek financing under a state provision known as Amendment 78.

"The question has always been, 'How are you going to pay for it?' Last year we exhausted a lot of old debt, opening up some cap space for us to issue what we refer to as an Amendment 78 note or, in other words, a 5-year short-term loan," Haskin said in a statement Friday.

Adopted by voters in 2000, Amendment 78 to the Arkansas Constitution created a type of tax increment financing, a way to capture a defined area's increases in property tax revenue to fund redevelopment projects. The amendment allows cities to issue bonds and repay them with such captured revenues.

Redevelopment projects are defined in Amendment 78 as any project "for eliminating, or preventing the development or spread of, slums or blighted, deteriorated, or deteriorating areas, for discouraging the loss of commerce, industry or employment, or for increasing employment."

In other business, the Board approved spending $52,800 to cover a health benefit premium increase of $40.50 per city employee. Last week, the city received notice from the Municipal Health Benefit Program that based on the city's claims, rates would go up effective July 1.

The payment will be made from the city's general fund. The fund balance is about $3.85 million, which would cover city expenditures for 71 days, Finance Director TyRhonda Henderson said. The city must keep at least 60 days' expenditures in reserve.

Ward 4 Director Travis Odom was absent. Monday's was the third consecutive Board meeting he has missed because of health concerns.

The Board's next meeting is scheduled for June 3.

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