Bond is­sue scores ‘home run’

City vot­ers ap­prove base­ball com­plex 1,126-712

The Sentinel-Record - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID SHOW­ERS

City vot­ers over­whelm­ingly en­dorsed a bond mea­sure Tues­day fi­nanc­ing the con­struc­tion of a five-field base­ball com­plex at the for­mer Boys & Girls Club of Hot Springs, ac­cord­ing to fi­nal, un­of­fi­cial re­sults.

The bal­lot ti­tle au­tho­riz­ing the Hot Springs Board of Direc­tors to is­sue up to $8.5 mil­lion in bonds on be­half of the Hot Springs Ad­ver­tis­ing and Pro­mo­tion Com­mis­sion passed 1,126-712, or by more than 22 per­cent­age points. Vot­ers who cast bal­lots dur­ing five days of early vot­ing supported the mea­sure 558-365. Only 8.41 per­cent of the 21,892 vot­ers regis­tered at ad­dresses in­side in­cor­po­rated Hot Springs par­tic­i­pated in the spe­cial elec­tion.

The bal­lot ti­tle pledged all or a part of the 3 per­cent hos­pi­tal­ity tax levied on pre­pared food and lodg­ing in­side the city to re­pay­ment of the bonds. In ad­di­tion to se­cur­ing the debt, the tax also sup­ports the op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance of the Hot Springs Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, ad­ver­tis­ing and pro­mot­ing the city and pub­lic recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties in­side the city.

“A big thank you goes out tonight to the peo­ple of Hot Springs who voted to sup­port our kids, our city’s eco­nomic growth and Hot Springs’ con­tin­u­ing com­mit­ment to a bright fu­ture for all of us,” Steve Ar­ri­son, CEO of Visit Hot Springs, said in a state­ment re­leased by a spokesman Tues­day night.

“The Ad­ver­tis­ing and Pro­mo­tion Com­mis­sion is es­pe­cially grate­ful to the mem­bers of the Home Run for Hot Springs Com­mit­tee who worked so long and so hard to sup­port the con­struc­tion of a youth base­ball com­plex that will be the best in Arkansas not only for Hot Springs kids to play the game but also to be the host site for tour­na­ment play by teams from near and far.

“Our kids are the win­ners. Our city is the win­ner. Our fu­ture is the win­ner. Thank you to all who helped and to all who voted for a home run for Hot Springs.”

The com­mis­sion has said the tax pro­ceeds will ser­vice the

$400,000 to $500,000 an­nual debt obli­ga­tion for the project dur­ing the 30-year life of the bonds. The in­debt­ed­ness will ac­count for about 5 per­cent of the com­mis­sion’s 2019 rev­enue, which it pro­jected at $8.8 mil­lion for 2019. The

3 per­cent hos­pi­tal­ity tax gen­er­ates most of that rev­enue.

Elec­tronic poll books showed more than 400 peo­ple who had yet to cast bal­lots had voted in the elec­tion when polls opened Tues­day, but Gar­land County Elec­tion Com­mis­sion Chair­man Gene Ha­ley said the glitch didn’t dis­en­fran­chise any­one.

A poll book with pro­gram­ming data for last No­vem­ber’s gen­eral elec­tion con­nected to a vote cen­ter’s Wi-Fi hot spot be­fore it could be re­pro­grammed for Tues­day’s elec­tion. It syn­chro­nized with other poll books at the 10 vote cen­ters op­er­at­ing Tues­day, caus­ing them to show 422 peo­ple who voted last No­vem­ber as hav­ing al­ready voted in the spe­cial elec­tion.

Ha­ley said vot­ing his­tory in­for­ma­tion in the poll books showed the vot­ers had voted in No­vem­ber and not in the spe­cial elec­tion. He said all vot­ers af­fected by the glitch were able to cast bal­lots.

“It didn’t af­fect any­one’s right to vote,” he said. “No­body was turned away.”

The poll books al­low vot­ers to cast bal­lots at any county vote cen­ter on elec­tion day, re­gard­less of precinct as­sign­ment. They’re con­nected to the in­ter­net to mon­i­tor voter check-ins in real time, pre­vent­ing vot­ers from cast­ing mul­ti­ple bal­lots at dif­fer­ent vote cen­ters. The county has used the vote cen­ter model since the March 2016 pref­er­en­tial pri­mary and non­par­ti­san elec­tions.

Ha­ley said the is­sue first came to light Thurs­day, when a poll book con­nected to a Wi-Fi hot spot prior to be­ing pro­grammed for the spe­cial elec­tion. The No­vem­ber gen­eral elec­tion pro­gram­ming data it con­tained loaded onto other poll books, caus­ing them to show 105 peo­ple who voted in No­vem­ber as hav­ing al­ready cast a bal­lot dur­ing early vot­ing.

One per­son in­cluded in that num­ber checked in at the early vot­ing lo­ca­tion at the Gar­land County Elec­tion Com­mis­sion Build­ing Thurs­day, and another checked-in Fri­day. Ha­ley said both were al­lowed to vote.

He said in fu­ture elec­tions poll work­ers will be in­structed to turn off Wi-Fi hot spots be­fore pro­gram­ming poll books.

The Sen­tinel-Record/Richard Rasmussen

SHOW­ING SUP­PORT: Kerry Lockwood Owen, left, and her hus­band, Ray Owen Jr., cam­paign Tues­day for the pas­sage of a bond is­sue fi­nanc­ing the con­struc­tion of a base­ball com­plex to be built at the for­mer Boys & Girls Club of Hot Springs.

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