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Voters back variety of building projects

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Voters approved bond questions Tuesday that should allow the city to undertake its first building expansion projects in 20 years.

Voters approved issuing bonds in order to build a new public library ($4.7 million) and public works complex ($2.4 million) as well as to purchase downtown property for a new city complex ($1 million) and 91 acres of park property ($1.1 million). All four bond questions passed handily, according to complete but unofficial results. Property owners will not see a property-tax increase as a result of the bonds."It's all badly needed," said City Councilman Grant Parker.

Mayor Jess Green and the City Council debated for more than 18 months about placing the bond questions on a ballot. Several councilmen believed the questions should all be grouped as one item, while others favored the eventual approach to separate the questions.

Mayor-elect Ted B. Barratt and the council now face the large task of overseeing construction of the library. Many residents think the price tag for the library is a bit too high and would like the city to build it for less.

City Administrator Carl T. Wanlass said the library and updated public works complex will go a long way to meeting the growing city's needs. However, he said, Barratt and the council will likely have to consider placing another bond question on a ballot as early as next year.

The city needs more money to build a new city office complex as well as public safety building. The current City Hall and police and fire stations are inadequate. Officials fear getting the next bond question past the voters will be more difficult because it likely will involve a property-tax increase.