In a matter of $3.9 million, a mere $200,000 might sound like small change. But that’s not how the City Council of Haysville, KS viewed it at their regular Monday night meeting on January 22, 2006.
After years of trying to market a plan for a new library building to replace the 14-year-old, 10,000-sq.-ft. building, the library committee celebrated the approval of the nearly $4 million bond issue in the city’s last election in November. It was a close vote, with nearly half of Haysville residents voting against it. The new plan will involve the construction of a much larger building in the area of town known as the Historic District. The new location will include a basement, the only one in the vicinity and an important attribute for a region that has suffered two deadly tornadoes in the last two decades.
A common complaint heard among Haysville citizens opposed to the new library, and one echoed by several Council members at the meeting, is that the library has plenty of room in its current location. This, however, is a matter of some debate and apparently depends greatly on personal opinion. The library committee’s main argument for the new location is that it would afford them the room to expand both their book collections and their educational and literary programs. The Library has sustained such programs for thirty years with individual donations and various other fundraisers.
Zoe Burgess, head of the library committee, attended the City Council meeting to make a request for backing from the City in regards to the purchase of the land on which construction would take place. “We would like to get the ball rolling as soon as possible,” said Burgess, “to avoid any future increases in costs.”
The Library will be seeking out grants and other sources of funding; however, none of this additional funding has yet been obtained. There are currently three residences located on properties on the future construction site.
The Council discussed the issue at length, some members obviously in direct opposition to the construction of the new Library itself and others concerned about the addition of unexpected expenditures to the project. As one Councilmember asked, “Why weren’t these costs taken into account when the original plan was drafted?”
Burgess insisted that the land purchases were indeed taken into account but that there were currently no funds available to get negotiations with the homeowners started.
Another concern the Council members expressed was that the money would be coming from City coffers without any way to replace it. Burgess then reminded the Council that the construction of a new library would be saving the City money that would have been spent on expansion of the current City Building and Police Department. City offices will be able to take over the current library building, which is conveniently located next door to the City Building, once construction on the new location is complete.
Still, the added expense was the foremost concern on the Council’s mind. Once it was finally agreed that the City would cover the cost of purchasing the parcels of land in question, the subject of repayment on the part of the Library was hotly debated. Mayor Bruce Armstrong seemed to be in favor of giving the Library the full twenty years of the bond issue and leaving them to their own recognizance in regards to whether or not they would eventually return the money. This suggestion was denied by the Council, however, in favor of a six-year plan. Although there were no actual penalties that were agreed upon should the Library fail to repay the debt, the Council was unwilling to leave said repayment up to the conscience of the Library committee.
In the end, the Haysville Community Library, which provides a number of community services to the city, including literary and cultural programs, computer classes, and space for community groups, will be required to repay the City for the cost of purchasing three plots of land. The cap put on the cost is $205,000. Although the Library committee could not pledge the first available grant the project receives to the repayment of this debt because of requirements that are often put on grants, any monies that become available will go to the City rather than into the Library’s own available project funds.