Archive for Thursday, February 16, 2006

Library launches advance-voting push

February 16, 2006

This is how many bond issues local voters have approved in the last 15 years: one.

Across the board, and in nearly every precinct, voters have opposed, sometimes vehemently, higher taxes for new facilities.

In only one category -- advanced ballots -- have supporters outweighed opponents.

This fact hasn't eluded officials with the Basehor-Linwood school district and the Basehor Community Library, two groups that soon will ask voters to approve funds for new construction.

School officials expect to place a heavy emphasis on advanced voting during the upcoming campaign to pass a $26.7 million question. Their counterparts with the library began work Monday morning to do the same.

The library, which is proposing a $2.99 million bond issue, is hoping to get an early lead on the Feb. 28 special election. On Monday, volunteers spent the morning organizing a mailer that will be sent to each registered voter in the 50-square-mile district who cast a ballot in the last library bond issue, April 2004.

Enclosed in the mailer was an application for an advance ballot. The application allows voters to receive an advanced ballot through the mail.

"Basically, we are sending this to registered voters to create an awareness about advance voting and to make voting convenient," library director Carla Kaiser said. She added, "We think there are many people who might take advantage of these alternate ways to vote if they are aware of them."

The cost of the mailing was financed by Friends of the Library, a non-profit organization that supports and promotes the library. The group has paid for all campaign expenses including Monday's mailer, according to Kaiser, adding that no public money was used.

The Leavenworth County clerk's office will accept mailed applications for advance voting through Friday, Feb. 24. The county clerk will also accept and count any advance ballots that arrive either by mail or in-person by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Funds from an approved bond issue would pay for a new facility on 158th Street. An approved bond issue would raise the library mill levy by 0.787 mills. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

The owner of a $200,000 home would pay an additional $18.10 per year in taxes, if the library bond issue passes.

The library's push for a new facility continued Monday evening. Officials spoke with the Basehor City Council about the bond issue package and asked for support in the election.

Library board member John Flower told council members that the current downtown building has been a good home to the library for the past two-plus decades. However, he said it's no longer adequate for operations.

He described the building as "space limited," its restroom facility as "one step up from an outhouse," and said it is too small to contain a collection worthy of what the library district requires.

"Even if we fixed it all up we would still have a building that's inadequate," he said.

At least two council members, Keith Sifford and Bill Hooker, voiced support for the library's bond issue.

"If we can move this thing forward, I think it's a real leap for the community," Sifford said.

"You can put a sign in my yard, if you want," Hooker said.

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