Two options given to school board in its negotiations with First Security Bank
When Benton School Board members considered the purchase of First Security Bank's downtown branch structure for a new central administration office, they were given two options: One involved a cash payment plus a property exchange; the other was a cash purchase outright.
In a meeting Monday night, the board voted 4-2 for Option A, which involved the trading of several school district facilities plus a cash amount.
This agreement called for the school district to pay the bank $2.3 million in cash plus give the bank C.W. Lewis Stadium parking lot, the stadium, the old junior high structure that currently houses UALR-Benton Center, Cate Administration Building and technology buildings.
Mark Vanderpool, president of First Security, has said on several occasions that the bank intends to donate these properties to an entity that is developing the UALR expansions project.
The final closing and transfer of properties is scheduled to take place Aug. 31, 2013.
If the board had chosen Option B — which was not voted on — the agreement would have involved a $2.5 million cash payment from the district to First Security for its downtown building and contents.
No school district properties were to be included in this plan.
Board members Wade Goodwin and Dr. Joe Felan did not support the plan to follow Option A. Goodwin voted "no" outright and Felan initially abstained, noting his affiliation with UALR as a conflict of interest.
Felan's vote had to be recorded as a "no," however, since he was in attendance and a state regulation notes an abstention must be recorded as "no" when the individual is present.
In the meeting, Felan said he had concerns about with the differences in price between the two options.
Goodwin said his objection was based on the absence of a recent appraisal of the school properties.
"I asked for one, but as far as I know, one was never done," he said.
The property values were determined on the basis of an appraisal done a number of years ago, Goodwin noted.
Benton Mayor David Mattingly attended the meeting in support of Option A, saying that the UALR-Benton Center expansion will present numerous opportunities for the community to grow and prosper.
Local attorney Clark Brewster reviewed the two options on behalf of the school district.