This is a letter that Skip Hurt wrote a few weeks ago and I reference it yesterday in my post, Of Books and Libraries.
I want to post some facts regarding the Tuftonboro Library. I believe that a clearly documented history can help resolve issues.
- Back in 2005 the town was presented with a proposal to build an 8,100 square-foot addition to the library at a total completed cost of $1.25 million. The library had $50,000 of their own money, so this proposal would have required a bond of $1.2 million, had it been brought to a vote. Instead, a capital reserve fund was approved for $100,000 that year.
- In 2006 an entire new building was proposed, with a total of 9,475 square feet. The cost to build was $2,050,827, and the requested bond was $1,990,827. It was voted on at Town Meeting, and lost.
- In 2009 the same 9,475 square foot building was presented, requesting a bond of $2,056,600. It was voted on at Town Meeting, and lost.
- In 2014 the same 9,475 square-foot building was again presented, but this time with a cost of $2,600,000 million. The requested bond was $2,075,000. It was voted on at Town Meeting, and lost.
- In 2015 an entirely new building was proposed with a total of 8,350 square feet and a cost of $2,390,000. The requested bond was $1,800,000. It was voted on at Town Meeting, and lost.
- This year at Town Meeting is a proposal to build an addition to the library. It would have a total completed 9,200 square feet at a cost of $1,920,000. The requested bond is $1,094,000.
Twelve years ago a very bad decision was made in abandoning the effort to add to the existing library. It has caused a lot of grief and cost the town at least $600,000. It could have been worse.
My effort here is to demonstrate that indeed real progress has been made. I’m going to vote for this bond. Here are my reasons.
First, I can state that the cost could easily be $200,000 lower. Eliminating 1,000 square feet at $200 per square foot saves you $200,000. However, waiting another year loses you that amount in building cost and interest funding. Net – Net it is not a solution.
The requested bond is $700,000 lower then the 2015 bond and almost $1 million lower then what would be required to build the new 8,350 square-foot building (from 2015) today at $2,650,000.
In other words, the library trustees are asking for a $1 million bond for more square feet instead of a $2 million bond for a smaller building.
The cost to the owner of a home valued at $300,000 will be $45.00 per year for seven years. (Approximately.) Also the unencumbered funds the town now has are substantial enough to reduce that amount further.
In my estimation the percentage of the voters at Town Meeting who will support this project has not gone below 60% (for bonds, a 2/3 majority is required, or 66%). I believe a serious effort has been made by the library trustees to seek compromise. I have also not heard any other constructive suggestions to resolve the issue. I’ve heard it suggested that building new is a better value. I disagree in this case. I will also point to the Town offices. We could have built a new building, but instead we added on to an old home. The result is more to my liking, and keeping with the character of the town.
I want to extend my sincere thanks for all who have voted against the previous library warrant articles. It was a Herculean task. I did not believe the past efforts were representative of the town’s base character. I’m not trying to convince others to vote for this — I understand all the reasons why someone might vote against it. I’m simply making clear my reasoning for voting for it.
A final point: With a clear majority it would be easy for the powers that be to approve warrant articles for much more than $100,000 per year. The current bond request funded at 10 years would require around $100,000 per year to fund, give or take. If large warrant articles were to pass, the tax impact would be much greater on a per year basis. I am in fact surprised that the library did not do a better job of creating warrant articles to this effect. Had they done so on a regular basis, starting 12 years ago, the project would be fully funded by now.