Too many unanswered questions: no on library
I have read the library board’s fact sheets, voter-information sheets and the newspaper articles. All that information has raised as many questions as it has answered.
* Where in the world are all these new people going to live?
Expansion from 3,800 square feet to 20,000 square feet is enormous. Current population is 12,000. According to the library, the growth of 8,000 people in the next decade is 60 percent, which is more than 2,600 new homes. Where would they be built?
Willits can’t add more than 500 new units, Stott’s Mill might add 100, and the Downey property could add another 70 or so, maybe 100, in the county. That is only 770 homes.
Let’s get reckless and say 1,000 new homes in 10 years. That equals an additional 3,000 people, which added to the existing population of 12,000 totals 15,000. Why then are we building 20,000 square feet for 15,000 people in 10 years?
* Why no information on what will go into the new library?
I really don’t care about national averages or comparisons with wealthy ski towns. What are the specifics about the needs and programs of our library? What new programs are going into the new 16,000 square feet?
I am not convinced of our need for a building program based on “general” or “national” statistics of 1 square foot per person. What are the new programs, services and such that will go into this building? How many new volumes do we get? How many new computers? Books on tape, etc.? How do you justify the sizes proposed, or is this a build it and we will fill it? Nature abhors a vacuum, they say.
* Basalt is not a high-priced destination resort like Aspen, Steamboat, Telluride or Vail. Their permanent populations are less than half of their peak-season populations, and their property values are many times higher than ours.
Aspen’s average home is worth more than a million dollars; ours is less than a quarter of that. I want to see comparisons to Norwood, Montrose, even Glenwood Springs, communities with large permanent populations and few tourists, just like Basalt.
* When will we close the second library?
The board says we could not afford a two-story library building because it would cause a $50,000 increase in annual operating costs. How then can we afford two libraries four miles apart with a courier service between the two buildings?
Do we stand at the checkout counter while someone brings us our selection from the other building? That is not what I want from my tax dollars, and it’s not a pleasant way to use a library.
Or do we have two of everything, one in each building? No new books just more of the same. Two buildings are less efficient than one, a one-story less efficient than two. Has the board really considered how dysfunctional the operation of two buildings will be?
* What is this about a 30-year land lease?
Where is the cost of the land lease and why is there no disclosure by the board about the negatives of not owning the land? What are you hiding?
If the land lease costs $800 per month and runs for 30 years, the taxpayers will have spent $288,000 with nothing to show for it at the end of the lease. Talk about penny-wise and pound-foolish. Don’t you have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers? You don’t even mention the lease or its cost in your information.
* The town’s offer for land next to the river was $360,000 and the offer for land at the existing building was free. Why should we put a $5,100,000 investment ($9,282,000 with interest plus the land lease) on property we don’t own?
At the end of the lease we lose our building and our investment and need to start over from scratch. Even a long-term lease ends; just remember what happened to Hong Kong at the end of its 99-year lease.
* What is the tax increase?
The current mill levy is 0.92. According to the information from the library, 3.26 mills raises $875,000. Then the mill levy needed to raise both the construction funds and operate the new libraries will go to 5.54 mills, a 604 percent increase.
The district has not provided any estimate of the mill levy needs for the bonds. I had to calculate that using information given in the operation mill levy information.
* The statement that there has been no mill levy increase is misleading.
The assessed valuation of the district has risen significantly in the past 10 years, and even with Tabor the district has collected more money as valuation and population has grown.
* Good process, bad result.
The process of site selection and program design has been difficult and painful. It cost this community a well-liked, capable librarian, and has polarized the community. In an effort to provide something for everyone, the board’s attempt to design a horse has produced a camel. This is not an acceptable outcome.
Let’s think long and hard about the unanswered questions and lack of unbiased facts and information. This investment in our community is too important not to do it right. This ballot proposal is wrong and should be defeated.
Ted Guy is a local architect and member of Citizens for One Library.
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