10 questions and answers about the downtown Ann Arbor library bond proposal
Hoping to provide more information before voters head to the polls next week, the AADL has put together the following list of answers to 10 basic questions.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Residents of the Ann Arbor District Library service area will find a proposal for a bond to fund a project to replace the downtown library at the end of their Nov. 6 ballot. If approved, the proposal will authorize the sale of up to $65 million of bonds, and authorize the library to levy an annual property tax millage for up to 30 years to make the bond payments.
Why is the downtown library bond being proposed now?
The current building will need major investment over the coming years to maintain or upgrade aging infrastructure. This will require increasing percentages of AADL's operating budget. With interest rates at unprecedented lows and construction costs still well below average, the AADL Board of Trustees determined that now is the time for the community to decide if a new downtown library should be built, or if AADL should continue investing operating funds in the current inefficient building. In 2007, the AADL board studied the issue of whether to replace or renovate the downtown library to address the capacity issues, and it was found that a new building would cost only 10 percent more than a renovation. Those cost estimates were assessed again in 2012 and found to be still valid.
Why is the proposal for rebuilding a downtown library on the same site?
AADL owns the site of the current downtown library, and it is by far the most heavily used public library in the district. AADL is committed to making information, events, workspace, and collections available downtown, and current demand for these services is beyond the capacity of the current building. The compromises involved in the previous two renovations to the current downtown library building are a major factor that limits the ability of a third renovation to add space and efficiency, so the AADL Board voted to place the bond proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot to seek public approval for a new downtown library on the current site.
Who is responsible for this project?
The publicly-elected Board of Trustees of the Ann Arbor District Library is the sole body responsible for the project, services, and facilities of the AADL. AADL is an independent taxing authority, and the downtown library project is not affiliated with the Ann Arbor Public Schools, the city of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, or any other governmental or commercial entities.
How much will the project cost? What does that cost me?
The bond proposal seeks authorization to sell up to $65 million of bonds to be repaid over 30 years. That is enough to fund the estimated $53 million of construction costs, plus demolition, rental of temporary facilities during construction, furniture, equipment, technology, and other costs related to the project including permits, architectural and interior design, and engineering.
Once the bonds have been sold, the library will levy property taxes for the annual bond payments. Depending on the interest rate at which the bonds are sold, annual payments will by funded by a millage rate of 0.47-0.56 mills per year, meaning the cost to the owner of a $200,000 home with a $100,000 taxable value will be between $47-$56 per year.
The library currently levies 1.55 mills per year for operation, costing the owner of a $200,000 home with a $100,000 taxable value $155 per year.
When would the bond payments begin?
If the proposal is approved by voters, the bonds would be sold in spring of 2013, and the millage would appear on tax bills starting summer 2013.
If approved, what will happen to the downtown library?
It is AADL's intent to have a downtown library open to the public throughout the process. If approved, when the current building closes, a temporary downtown library will open in a rented space offering request pickup, drop boxes, internet access, a kids' area, and popular materials, until the new building opens. AADL will not lay off staff during construction. The current downtown collection will be temporarily relocated and available by request as always during the construction process, and will be brought back into the new building before it opens.
If approved, when would the project begin and end?
A solid timeline will be developed if the proposal is approved, but it is anticipated that the project will begin by spring 2014 and construction will last 18-27 months.
If approved, who would design and build the library?
The AADL Board will select an architect and construction manager if the bond proposal is approved. AADL Board meetings, as always, are open to the public.
If approved, how can the community give input on the design?
In addition to the public forums seeking public feedback on the project that were held on June 9, 2012, June 12, 2012, and June 20, 2012, AADL will offer many opportunities for the public to give input and feedback on the design of the project as it progresses if approved.
Similar events were held throughout the design process for the Malletts Creek, Pittsfield, and Traverwood branches, and the public is invited to speak to the AADL Board of Trustees at the beginning of every AADL board meeting.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.