Archive for Thursday, March 18, 2004

City Council hears library bond proposal

March 18, 2004

In its 19-year-history, the Basehor Community Library has never asked residents within its library district pay more taxes to fund a new facility, library director Carla Kaiser said Monday night.

Kaiser and other library representatives appeared before the Basehor City Council Monday night to discuss the library's upcoming bond issue and answer any questions.

On April 6, voters residing within the library's approximate 50-square-mile district, will decide whether to approve $3.79 million in bonds to pay for a new facility on 158th Street.

Discussion between the two sides was limited Monday night. However, City Council president Julian Espinoza did ask how library officials intend to win a bond issue in an area typically tight with the purse strings when it comes to new taxes.

"Two failed bond issues by the school district last year," Espinoza said. "How do you make yours different?"

In 2003, the Basehor-Linwood School District proposed two $30 million bond issues. They both failed, the second by a wider margin than the first.

Kaiser said the scope of the library's bond issue is considerably less than the bond issues proposed by the school district. The $3.79 million total cost is less than one-fifth of the price tag proposed by the school district.

And the library, unlike the school district, isn't split between two communities, so a campaign won't be spread out. Kaiser said the library has mailed out fliers, will go door-to-door to speak with residents and will place yard signs to promote the bond issue.

A public forum also has been set for 2 p.m. Sunday at the United Methodist Church on 158th Street to discuss the bond issue.

The library also serves anyone within its district, the director said, "anywhere from two-year-olds to 100-year-olds."

But perhaps the ace in the hole for the library lies with the past. Not once has the library asked for higher taxes for a new library, and the library only does move forward now because the situation is right, Kaiser said.

The facility the library seeks to build is a 21,000 square foot facility, which will rest on three acres on 158th Street. Basehor residents Ray and Anne Breuer donated the tract in April of 2002.

A provision of the donation is that construction of a new library must be underway within five years of the donation date. A library adviser said the land is valued between $250,000 and $300,000, money the library doesn't have to ask taxpayers for to provide a new facility.

The site on 158th Street, located conveniently near major thoroughfares and existing and future commercial developments, will provide an easy destination for library patrons on the go, Kaiser said.

"It's (convenient enough) where people can cash their check, pick up a gallon of milk and they can also pick up their best seller," she said.

An average of 589 people visit the library each month. Since its inception, the library has seen circulation, usage and square footage more than double.

"We've gained and grown a lot over the years but we've also given up a lot," Kaiser said.

"We see (the library) as a much needed service to the community, and we want to provide that to them."

None of the City Council members either endorsed or opposed the library bond issue publicly Monday night.

If approved by voters, the new library will be an expandable facility featuring a community meeting room, children, young adult and adult book sections, administrative offices and a used book store.

According to estimates, an approved bond issue would increase the library district's mill levy by 7.79 mills; the current mill levy is 3.23 mills. The bond issue would be repaid over a 10-year-period.

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