Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 97
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for July 26, 2001

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Plans for a new building for the Trails Regional Library are well underway. It appears that the location will be the city-owned property west of the Municipal Building and that the financing will be a loan paid using a new levy. Im a regular library user who recognizes the inadequacies of the current facility, but I have mixed feelings about this project.

First is the site. Currently the library is the heart of downtown activity. Given the criteria for site selection, it seems almost inevitable that this area would be selected. First, theres enough space for adequate parking, although I expect that there will have to be some controls on parking to keep it from being monopolized by CMSU students. Second, land acquisition costs will be minimal, since the City owns most of the land and owes something to the County for donating the land for the Veterans Home. Third, there are no existing buildings to design around. However, this location takes the library from the heart of downtown creating a significant threat to the well-being of downtown. Id have much rather seen the library expanded across Culton Street to the Larson Hardware and Hull Lumber properties, so the integrity of downtown could have been preserved.

My second concern is the method of financing. Traditionally, major improvements are financed by bond issues, which require a bond election and a supermajority (4/7 to 2/3) to pass. The Library intends to borrow money using some U.S. Department of Agriculture program and increasing the operating levy (read tax) to service the loan. Leaving aside the rationale for the USDA to finance a building in a city of 15,000+, what we see is an end run around the normal means of incurring public indebtedness. Unless they put a sunset on the tax, after the loan is paid the Library would then have additional discretionary income from the increased tax.

Ultimately, the Library plans will have to go before the voters of both Johnson and Lafayette counties. Lafayette County voters will have to be convinced to raise their taxes to pay for a building in Warrensburg. At least the voters of Holden, who have seldom voted for projects of benefit to Warrensburg, will not vote on this library; they have their own outside the Trails system.

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