Batavia Library asks voters to swap debt tax for increase in operations tax

Operations cash would replace tax for debt

  • Batavia Public Library is asking voters for permission to increase what can be charged in property taxes for operations.

      Batavia Public Library is asking voters for permission to increase what can be charged in property taxes for operations. Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2017

 
 
Updated 7/25/2018 6:43 PM

Batavia Public Library District voters will decide in November whether to increase the taxes residents pay to operate the library.

The Nov. 6 referendum question will seek permission to increase the operating tax rate limit by 7 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The 7 cents is essentially a swap for the 7 cents the library has been charging to pay back the money it borrowed in 1998 to buy land and build the current building at 10 S. Batavia Ave. The last payment on that debt will be made in December. The building opened in 2002.

If fully implemented, it would raise an estimated $650,000 a year for the library, based on the current value of property, according to library Director George Scheetz.

The increase was recommended by residents who participated in the "Speak Up!" community forums the library conducted earlier this year.

Library officials say they cannot sustain current programming, hours and staffing, plus do maintenance and repairs on the building, without increasing the operations tax.

Currently, the owner of a $220,294 home pays about $297.01 a year to the library, of which $47.50 is for that debt.

According to a summary of the "Speak Up!" meetings, participants said that besides maintaining the current building, it was important that the library increase its operating hours and its digital materials and resources.

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Videos of the four meetings and a summary report can be found on the library's website, bataviapubliclibrary.org.

"The building is nearly 20 years old. The community is aware that over time, equipment and building systems need additional maintenance, repairs and updates," board President Andrew Deitchmann said in a news release.

A 2017 capital-assets evaluation of the building by an engineer detailed more than $5 million worth of equipment replacement costs over the next 20 years. The first big job would be replacing most of the roof, which the consultant said should be done within the next four years.

The consultant also recommended the library beef up its capital-assets reserve fund, by putting $550,000 a year in to it for the next five years, then $250,000 a year thereafter.

According to the library's 2017 annual report, it has 181,459 print items for circulation, and 37,976 audio and visual items. It budgeted $3.4 million in expenditures for 2017-18, not including debt payments.

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