Voters were asked in Tuesday’s special election to decide on refinancing the city’s current bond, Item 1, on the special election ballot. The Cleburne County Clerk’s office reports 452 people cast early votes, with Monday, March 8, seeing 128 voters cast ballots. {span}At the time the election was called, there were 4,949 eligible voters. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011 Heber Springs had a population of 7,105. In 2019, the population was reported to be around 6,992.

In a phone interview Tuesday morning Heber Springs Mayor Jimmy Clark said he was pleased with the amount of early voting and was looking forward to finding out the results Tuesday night. We will continue to share information as it becomes available to us on thesuntimes.com, Facebook, and in next week’s edition.

If the refinancing of the bond passes, citizens could see projects start within 90 days, when the weather moderates for construction. If voters decide not to refund and refinance the existing bond issue, then the council could vote to bring another special election to voters again in the future. However there are only certain times during the year when municipalities can ask for a special election, but the interest rates won’t be as competitive and the construction costs will likely rise.

Refinancing the bond would generate $11,930,000, for infrastructure repair and improvements for drainage, sidewalks, streets, parks, and first responders, along with retiring the remaining current bond, of which $7,960,000 remains.

At a recent town hall citizens speaking in favor of refinancing the bond at and the initiatives spoke of the economic impacts of having a downtown that doesn’t flood, decent sidewalks, more parking, and better lighting. Expanding the trails system would be attractive for cycling and running clubs to visit the city and spend their money.

Citizens also spoke up during the meeting against the timeline of the bond refinancing. The duration of the bond is a 30-year maturity, but is projected to be paid off in 23-year at current sales tax income levels.

Construction and materials needed to increase drainage capacity to alleviate the continual burden of downtown homes and businesses of flood water and flood cleanup.

Construct and expand a multi-use trail system, splash pad located between the community center and the aquatics center, and to replace the essential water filtering system at the aquatics center. Sandy Beach plans will include new restrooms, an open-air pavilion, four lit regulation sand volleyball courts, and an area for concessions.

Completing streetscape beautification improvements to the downtown area, including any street, curb, gutter, and drainage improvements, lighting, utility pole replacements, sidewalks, landscaping, traffic signals, and decorative signage that adds to the overall aesthetics of historic downtown.

Fund an aging fleet of patrol cars that are either approaching or beyond their useful life of active duty. Funds will purchase equipment inside patrol cars to allow for technological upgrades of onboard computers for quicker information exchange between local and federal law enforcement agencies while conducting on-site investigations.

Improve existing sidewalks or any utility adjustments to allow for safe ADA-compliant passage for pedestrians along Main Street. Improvement bond will also provide a safe school route sidewalk along Wedding Ford Road.

Renovations and improvements to the terminal building at the municipal airport.

Purchase of a new fire engine that will replace a 1980’s model engine allowing for quicker and dependable responses to structure fires, heart attacks, strokes, car accidents, and other emergencies. New fire apparatus will also have the ability to carry more water, equipment, and personnel, thus enhancing the effectiveness of protecting homes and businesses from fire.

Fund the retrofitting of a donated building to relocate the city administration office and fire department headquarters. This bond will establish a healthy and safe living space for both full-time, part-time, and volunteer firefighters while affording them sanitary cooking, bathing, and sleeping conditions they currently do not have. By moving the central fire station and offices out of the municipal building, that will give the police department space for Joint Narcotics Unit offices.

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