Logo courtesy of Ames Public Library
By Andrew Duffelmeyer
(Sept. 22, 2011 - 9:30 a.m.) Ames Public Library Director Art Weeks says he's not concerned about the public shooting down an $18 million bonding proposal to expand, renovate and equip the library, even after a $65 million bonding plan to build or renovate six elementary schools was roundly rejected by voters on Sept. 13.
The library's bonding plan will be on the Nov. 8 city election ballot.
"I think it's a separate issue," Weeks said. "I don't think there are any linkages between the two. Certainly we want people to evaluate the library project as something that they feel is going to be a worthwhile project or not, but I don't see it tied into the schools in anyway."
The plan would expand the 48,000 square foot library building to 77,000 square feet, while maintaining all previous additions and the original 1904 building.
The bond is expected to cost taxpayers $29.70 per $100,000 of residential property valuation and $61.20 per $100,000 of commercial property valuation. The library has committed to raising $2 million on it's own.
Weeks said the library has formed a committee to sell the plan to Ames residents.
"We have purposely stayed away from any kind of active public information campaign on this until the school board vote was over," Weeks said. "So within the next week or so we're going to start providing the information that people will need to evaluate the project so they can cast their vote in November."
The library last expanded 26 years ago, work that was planned to meet growth for between 15 and 20 years. Circulation has nearly tripled since that time.
The library's board has said staffing and operating costs would hold steady in a new building due to efficiency efforts in energy use, materials processing and facility layout. Open floor plans would reduce the need for staff supervision, and automated book-sorting systems would free up staff time as well.
"What our hope is, we're going to be in the next six weeks before the election getting out as much information to the community as we possibly can so they can evaluate the project and make an informed decision on the needs of the library and vote in what is in the best interest of themselves, their families and the community," Weeks said.
Another major bonding proposal - $65 million to finance improvement projects for Mary Greeley Medical Center - will not be voted on by the public.
Michael Tretina, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Mary Greeley, said that project contains no obligation from the city for repayment and no tax revenues from Ames citizens.
That project is expected to cost $129 million. A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for next Tuesday at 4 p.m.