Ripley plans $2.75 million bond issue for park improvement

By Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel

RIPLEY – The City of Ripley plans to issue up to $2,750,000 in general obligation bonds for upgrading the city park system.

If there is no opposition, aldermen plan to approve issuing the bonds at a special meeting of the mayor and board of aldermen Monday, Aug. 8 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

At their Tuesday, July 5, meeting, aldermen unanimously approved a resolution to issue the general obligation bonds.

The proceeds from the bond issue will be used to build and equip a park on a 50-acre tract of land on Ashland Road. The land was donated to the city by Ripley native Fred Fortier.

A tract of land just outside city limits – purchased under a previous administration — which was to be used for a park is now leased for agricultural purposes.

The bonds will be repaid through revenues generated through a 2 percent tourism tax on the cost of prepared food, and on lodging in the city.

Revenue collected from the tourism tax – which city residents approved in a referendum several years ago — was earmarked for the construction of a new city park. The tax money has never been used, and now stands at $544,703.35, as of the end of last week, city officials said this week.

The assessed value of all taxable property within the city, according to the last completed assessment for taxation, is $29,713,732. By law, the city may have up to 15 percent of its assessed value in bonded indebtedness, and up to 20 percent of its assessed value in bonded and floating indebtedness. The city has no indebtedness subject to the 15 percent or 20 percent rules at this time, according to city officials.

Aldermen plan to issue the bonds unless 10 percent of the qualified electors of the city or 1,500, whichever is less, file a written protest with the Clerk of the City of Ripley, against the issuance of the Bonds.

Then, by law, the bonds shall not be issued unless authorized at an election.

If no protest is filed on or before 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2011, against the issuance of bonds, then the bonds may be issued without an election at any time within a period of two years after Aug. 8.