On Tuesday, Oct. 2, we’ll be asked to vote on a proposition to maintain the current five percent sales tax. As a member of the Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries board, it’s become clear to me that we have been remiss in explaining the facts about the proposed Dimond Park Library.
A city-owned library will save operating costs. Since 2009, rent for the current facility has increased 13 percent faster than the rest of the library budget.
By 2014, it will be $17,000 per month ($204,000 per year), exceeding the total spent for books, supplies, subscriptions, and computers for all three public libraries. Even with the inclusion of maintenance and utilities for the new library at a 3 percent annual inflation rate, eliminating the cost of rent would result in immediate annual savings that would increase over time.
The library project already has secured 66% of the total project cost — $9.3 million out of $14 million. This includes a $7 million library construction matching grant from the Legislature and $1.3 million from the Friends of the Library and the Library Endowment Fund. The $4.7 million in the 1 percent sales tax is the remaining local match needed. Without the match, Juneau will lose the $7 million grant and the opportunity to build a library at one-third of the cost. This is one project that cannot wait for a reformulated ballot next year.
While the proposed library will benefit all of Juneau, the new library will directly serve the area with the largest population in the borough. A new library will not only offer meeting and study spaces for valley residents that are comparable to the downtown and Douglas libraries, but children, in particular, will benefit, as well. There is less space for childrens’ books and activities in the current mall space than in either of the other libraries. Kids downtown and in Douglas have easy access to libraries in their neighborhoods, but not the 60 percent of children and teens living in the valley.
There are more facts available at http://www.friendsjpl.org/index.html... or just google “Friends of the Juneau Libraries.” Most important? Please join us in voting “yes” on proposition two to extend the one percent sales tax.
• Brotherton is treasurer of Friends of the Library