We’re reaching out to voters this November with a bond issue for capital improvements. Although it’s never easy to approach voters for tax dollars, it’s always a pleasure to share how we are able to better serve our patrons as we provide much needed services to all our citizens. In the spirit of transparency, I’ll be using this blog to share information.
This week, let’s discuss why we’re taking this effort county-wide.
“I paid for [insert library name here] 15/20/25/30 years ago. Why do I have to pay for a county-wide bond issue now?”
This is a question I get from time to time and it deserves a substantive answer without glossing over details. Indeed, it is true that in the past, the model for building new facilities was what we call “targeted bond issues” or neighborhood targeting. The logic of this is that if a community wants a new library building, they will pony up the resources to make that happen. And that is how things happened, with a few exceptions, for the Geauga County Public Library system.
But, the model has been changing and exceptions have been occurring with increasing frequency. One such exception is the Administrative Center on Ravenwood Drive which was completed using a countywide bond issue similar to what we are proposing now. Other exceptions include more recent facilities improvements to Chardon, Newbury and the Mobile Services portion of the Middlefield Branch. All these improvements were funded from the library’s general fund. We had money that we allocated to facilities improvements that came out of our PLF and levy funds and used that for the recent improvements, in the neighborhood of $1.5 million.
The answer to the question is because we are a county district library and there are needs at all of our facilities. Everyone in the county library district will benefit from the improvements we are planning, so it is fair to expect everyone to contribute. Someone recently asked, “Does this mean we are all in this together?” and the answer is “yes.” We can no longer work through the schools and ask them to run our bond issues as all of the area schools have needs of their own and are facing state funding decreases.
The Geauga County Public Library Board of Trustees and the administration team have explored every reasonable option to solve our facilities issues. One person asked me why we don’t just set aside money every year and bank it until we have enough to pay for the facilities. In fact, with interest rates being what they are, it’s cheaper to borrow money now and pay back at the lower rate than to save and earn a lower interest yield on the sum. Labor will never be cheaper than it is right now. At the recent Geauga Growth Partnership Annual Meeting, we heard that post RNC construction for 2016 labor and materials are at an all-time low. All of these factors point to our conclusion that this is the best model available right now.
We feel this bond issue is important to support a solid future for Geauga County Public Library patrons. Sound, energy-efficient buildings with ample community space are a valuable resource for everyone. We are in a position to help Geauga County citizens find what drives their dreams.