Monday, November 8, 2010

Library Expansion: At a Glance


On November 15, 2010, the Robertson County Commission will likely vote on funding the expansion of the Gorham-MacBane Public Library.

This proposal moved through the Budget Committee for further discussion by the entire County Commission.

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What we have before the County Commission is a $6 million project for upgrade and expansion. The project encompasses much more than just brick and mortar buildings and expansion. The project encompasses much more than more shelves for more books. The project encompasses so much more in that it is boot-strapping the Gorham-MacBane Public Library from a facility that was last substantially upgraded decades ago.
Many of the concerns that have been shared with me have to do with the "need" of the expansion and upgrade. Candidly, I think this is out of the question in that the expansion and upgrade is long overdue. Whether Robertson County "needs" this expansion is an entirely different question.

Finances:

The project will require $2 million from the County. The remaining $4 million being matched by funds raised by the Gorham-MacBane Public Library, and the City of Springfield, respectively.
Though, it is not as simple as allocating the funds. For the County to contribute, it would first be required to borrow more money since we are currently operating on a deficit.
Also, the City of Springfield has not completely guaranteed that they will match. Likely, it will be the County's leadership that will determine what the City of Springfield will do in this regard, though this is not guaranteed.

Questions:

What I would like to see is a tiered plan that would allow this project to be undertaken over some length of time.

This question was posed at the presentation to the Budget Committee on Thursday, November 4th. It was discouraged since it would pose difficulties in operating the library during protracted construction projects over periods of time.

Candidly, I can sympathize with representatives of the library since this project has been discussed and bantered about for the better part of ten years. Nevertheless, many smart people failed to predict or see this economic downturn that is affecting us all. I think with the resources we have, we have to develop some responsible means through which we approach this or any other project.

10 comments:

  1. I think that the library is definitely in need of upgrading. A town the size of Springfield should have a much nicer library. I do question the timing right now. It seems like Robertson County is functioning like the government—borrowing more money to cover what they don't have currently. That doesn't seem good financial practice to me.

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  2. The Library is definitely needed. Much appreciation to Cindy and all the others that are working so hard to see this come to pass. I only regret that the economic times right now may once again but this on a back burner, but hopefully something can be worked out for the need is very great. Thanks Jonathan for all you are doing

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  3. I believe that a community such as Springfield and Robertson should support the library project and expansion. Funding the library with further debt commitments on our county is not a good idea in this economic time. Thank you Jonathan for this excellent forum to share our comments.

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  4. I believe that tough times require forethought and leadership. The County borrows money anytime a project is funded and repays the debt from property tax collection. The current proposal for the County's contribution is a "drop in the bucket" compared to the cultural and economic dividends a first class Library offers our community. Rates are low and property values continue to plummet here in Robertson County.

    Would the County enjoy $ 2 million worth of benefit over the life of the expansion. I think so. It is a worthwhile investment in my opinion.

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  5. With the public services and economic benefits that a new library can have on our community, I believe it will be worth the effort to locate the funds to support this project. Libraries provide access to financial info., job and career resources, computer technology and services, and educational support for everyone! Personally, I just want a great place to take my grandson for Storyhour and to check out books!

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  6. I agree that "something" needs to be done BUT I am not sure what that something is. With the purposed tripling of the of the floor space will come the additional costs of operating expense (i.e. utilities costs increases, expansion of the work force and the like). Since this entity generates little to no income, there will be a increase on the tax base to cover these added costs. The costs will to much further than the initial building costs. We need to do this, we all agree, BUT is this the time?? I realize bond rates are near record lows and building costs are also down but our debt is up. We are in quandary.

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