Library funding process rolling: Soldotna city council puts bond issue decision to voters

Posted: Sunday, March 28, 2010

The city of Soldotna made strides last week toward beginning the funding process for the library expansion project. The proposed additions to the Joyce K. Carver Public Library are expected to cost about $6 million.

At Wednesday night's city council meeting, the body approved an ordinance that allows the council to issue up to $2 million in general obligation bonds to pay for the expansion.

The ordinance does not mean the city council has issued any bonds; it just opens up that possibility. The public must approve bond issuances.

Councilman Ed Sleater, who proposed the ordinance, said his intention was to open up public conversation on potential library expansion funding.

"Anything that's in that ordinance can be changed or amended. It's all open to discussion," Sleater said. "We've laid it on the floor. It's out there, but let's talk about it."

Soldotna City Manager Larry Semmens said bonds are just one avenue to potential project funding. The city could also withdraw from the general fund balance or rely on grants and donations.

But, Semmens said, a bond could be an important early step.

"If the electorate approves of the bond issuance it makes it a lot easier to secure other types of funding because it shows the support of the community behind the project," Semmens said.

A conceptual design of the project, which proposes to expand approximately 8,000 square feet of usable space into more than 18,000 square feet of usable space, has been completed. Construction could be finished by 2020.

Librarian Terri Burdick said the facility needs more space to provide all the services, such as cultural events and book clubs, that the library wants to provide.

"In order to do that now, because we do not have a separate room, we have to move existing furniture and put up chairs and post signage saying this area is gong to get a little noisy," Burdick said. "We need space all over."

Burdick said the city council's ordinance helps propel the project.

"It means (possible) funding," she said. "It's another step forward toward the long-term goal to get an expansion on the library."

Andrew Waite can be reached at andrew.waite@peninsulaclarion.com.



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