Democracy In Action

The Keller City Council decided last night to send the library issue to the voters, as per the petition that was submitted.

I’m glad to see this happening, since I thought that the council’s previous approach was a bit high-handed (and had a bit of back-room dealing odor about it).  Now I want to know why the cost seems so high.  I know that construction costs are going up (due to energy costs, higher demand, and exchange rates), but $8.5 million for a 37,000 sq.ft. building seems really excessive to me. 

Here’s what library supporters need to do between now and May 13, 2006 if they want me to even consider supporting a new library:

  • Publish the plans for the new library (including all new equipment).
  • Explain what is driving the cost (including what other alternatives were considered, and why those alternatives were unsuitable).
  • Provide an exact cost for the impact on our tax rate of the bond issuance.
  • Provide details on ongoing maintenance and support costs, along with an accurate assessment of the impact on the tax rate.
  • Resist the urge to demonize those who have questions and concerns about the library (including those who don’t support a new library).
  • Explain why the library has to be in Town Center.  What other sites were considered?  Why weren’t other sites considered, if none?
  • Why was expanding the existing library not an option?  (I know that it won’t support a second floor, so I want to hear sound reasons why the library can’t be expanded, other than it would encroach on park land.)
  • Provide proof (preferrably in the form of an impartial, third-party study) that the library would drive sales in Town Center.  In lieu of an impartial study, real-world results from another, similar city would be helpful.  But pie-in-the-sky guesstimates are unacceptable, since any shortfall in proposed sales-tax revenues would have to be made up out of our property taxes.

The onus is on the supporters to provide compelling, and factual, reasons for a new/expanded library.  I’ll be watching and waiting.

More info:
Star-Telegram article on last night’s meeting.

Previous posts:
The Arrogance Is Mindboggling
Library ‘O Doom
The Library Thing


  1. Jim Carson says:

    Thanks for the link, Aubrey.  The proposals considered last winter were an $8.2 million Town Center library or a $7 million, 24,000 sq.ft. expansion.  $7 million divided by 24,000 is an impressive $292 per square foot.  So expanding the existing library was an option, but (conveniently?) much too expensive.

  2. It’s these kinds of numbers that make me really question the deal.

    I want people to think like private industry and scrutinize every single dollar that is spent on the project.  Since I haven’t seen the exact estimates, I can’t say this is happening here, but I sometimes get an impression that taxpayers are viewed as an unlimited ATM, and people get so wrapped up in having the best of everything that they forget who is paying for it.

    Anyhow, this is why I want to see details, so I can see for myself if we’re getting too fancy for our own good.  If we need a new library, then let’s build one.  But we don’t need it to be opulent, just functional.