Voters approve library tax

April 3, 2013

Sedalia Public Library Director Pam Hunter said she was breathing a sigh of relief after voters approved a .07 percent per $100 in assessed valuation property tax increase during Tuesday’s election.

“This whole process I’ve been cautiously optimistic, but I’m relieved it’s over,” Hunter told the Democrat. “I’m happy and excited — I think I need to do a little celebration dance — but I’m glad I don’t have to think about an election anymore.”

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the measure passed with 61 percent, or 637 votes. The increase, which will sunset in 25 years, will net about $110,000 a year to pay for repairs to the 111-year-old building that was closed last July due to structural problems.

Library Board President Nancy Finley said she was “pleased and thankful” library patrons came out in support of the measure.

“One of the things I think really helped us was the building itself,” she said. “Driving by on Third Street, you can see how bad it is, how many repairs are being done. Clearly the money is needed and by letting people know this tax increase will be used only for the repairs, I think they saw how important saving the library really was.”

Repairs for the building, estimated to cost about $1.5 million, will be paid for from a city bond that also includes the repair of the Washington Avenue bridge and building a new Fire Station No. 2. The tax increase was needed to pay for the debt service on the bond, Hunter said.

“We’ve already borrowed $1.5 million for the repairs through the city’s bond, so this tax increase will go toward our debt service payments for that,” she said. “Having to take out $110,000 for debt service would have been a big chunk of our budget and we may have had to look seriously at limiting library hours, services or upgrades. I’m very thankful we don’t have to make those plans.

“Now we can focus on finishing construction and getting moved back into our building.”

According to Hunter, the library should start seeing money from the tax increase sometime in November.