Unacceptable architecture, high costs and poor communication are the main reasons community members say they voted against a property tax increase intended to fund two new library branches in Boone County, according to the Daniel Boone Regional Library Board of Trustees.
The last of three community hearings held to investigate the 3-to-1 failure of the tax increase on the April 3 ballot took place at the Southern Boone County Senior Center on Thursday. There were about 30 people in attendance, the highest turnout of the week. The two previous meetings were held in Hallsville on Tuesday and in Columbia on Wednesday.
“Ashland stood to gain the most from the proposal,” Richards said after Wednesday’s meeting. “I want to find out why they voted against it.”
The proposal was for a 21-cent property tax increase that would have funded two new library branches, one in Ashland and one at the Boone County Fairgrounds. The new Ashland library would have been triple the size of the current building, and was designed by Renner Howell Architects and Bottino Grund Architects, the same team that designed the Columbia Public Library. It would have cost an estimated $5 million to build.
“That was more grandeur than we needed,” Ashland resident Bill Abrams said. “I think we need a library, but not something with all that weird artwork.”
In April, more than half of Ashland’s voters denied the library proposal. Cathy Salter was one of the 399 voters in Ashland that voted for it.
“I love the idea of a beautiful library, not a box,” she said. “The Columbia library is one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen. We need to be somewhere between the two extremes. I think we can have something beautiful but not too expensive.”
Some residents suggested designing a building that resembles the schools in Ashland. “You need to bring us something that shows that you are accountable for our money,” said Ashland resident Nancy Jo Day. “If you do that, we will support it.”
Several community members in attendance agreed with Day’s comment.
“People want to see a more durable building that’s going to last forever,” said Ashland resident David Mars.
Some residents asked about what the library trustees had heard in Hallsville on Tuesday. One sympathized with the community’s situation, stating that if she were asked to pay for a new library in northern Boone County, she wouldn’t vote for it either.
Ken Eftkins, Ashland’s city administrator, said he was pleased that the meeting revealed the complexity of the issue.
A few residents pointed out how much they appreciate the trustees taking the time this week to talk to community members, garnering applause.
“Hallsville wants a library, we’re already committed to a library here, but fifty percent of voters in the Boone County Library District are residents of Columbia,” Richards said to the Ashland group. “We just want to find out how we can appeal to everyone.”