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Campaign urges voters to support bond for new central library

SHARE Campaign urges voters to support bond for new central library

Friends of the Salt Lake City Library has mounted a volunteer campaign to urge support for an upcoming $84 million general obligation bond election for a new central library, other library facilities and construction work on the block east of the City-County Building.

Suzanne Dailey, newly elected president of the organization, met with the City Library Board last month to discuss efforts of the advocacy group.She read a copy of a letter that will be sent to approximately 7,000 Salt Lake households urging support on Nov. 3 for the bond issue.

Five postcards will be included in each letter. Those receiving the letter will be asked to mail the postcards urging others to also vote "yes" on the bond issue.

On Nov. 3, voters of Salt Lake City will be asked to vote on the 20-year general obligation bond, which will cover a number of projects.

They include construction of a new 200,000-square foot main library on the northwest corner of 200 East and 400 South (north of the existing 34-year-old library); parking for 600 to 700 vehicles (300 or more of those spaces would be dedicated exclusively to library patrons); demolition of all the buildings on the library block, with the exception of the current Main Library; an outdoor plaza/green space in the center of the block to be used for cultural events, library activities and by cultural organizations that will occupy the block, and expansion of the Sprague and Anderson-Foothill Branch libraries.

Also, bonding would pay for replacement of the heating and cooling plant that provides heating and air conditioning for the entire block on which the Main Library sits and for the City-County Building.

Library system director Nancy Tessman says she and others have met with numerous community councils, civic and other groups to explain the library project. She said she feels strong support for the project and is not aware of any organized opposition to the proposal. But she said she has encountered some individuals who say they are not sure if increased taxes are how they want to spend their money are what they want right now.

Dailey said a lot of volunteers are needed to gain support for the new library and other facilities. And she said Friends welcomes contributions to bolster the $15,000 it has allocated for its campaign. She said the latter amount comes from membership dues ($5 for an individual and $15 for a family) and from annual book sales. Those interested in volunteering may call 524-8234.

The Friends' letter says the group has "carefully examined and participated in the planning that has gone into (the building) proposal. We are convinced there is a genuine need for a new, larger and improved main library and for the expansion of the Foothill and Sprague Branches."

Library officials say voter approval on the $84 million bonding measure would mean an annual property tax increase of approximately $43.50 on a $150,000 home. Construction of a larger library will also mean an increase in the library's operating budget. Taxpayers would be asked to pay an increase of about $7 to $8 per year to operate a new facility. Library officials will ask for the operating budget increase to begin in 1999-2000.

These funds will allow the library to significantly enhance the size of its collection prior to completion of a new main library. Once the new building opens, the additional funds will be used to cover increased operating costs associated with a new, larger facility, officials say.

The operating costs are an "estimate. It's hard to know (for sure), but we've tried to be conservative and responsible. But we've also tried to make sure that we are not setting people up for a surprise." It's difficult to calculate what expenses will be three or four years from now, Tessman said.