Library O’ Doom

I received an email from Jim Maine last night.  He’s a local watchdog who runs the ourKeller website.  It seems that the city council voted last night to proceed with plans to issue $8.5 million in bonds for a new library (registration required, has Firefox-circumventing pop-ups).

With a 4-to-1 vote Tuesday night, City Council members said they intend to issue $8.5 million in bonds for the project without asking for voters’ approval. The council will vote again on Dec. 20 to actually issue the library bonds and another $270,000 in non-voter-approved bonds that would pay for new police cars, a dump truck and a street paving machine.

Councilman Mitch Homes voted against the plan saying the decision should be made by voters.

Residents who attended the meeting criticized the council after the vote, also saying the controversial issue should be put to voters. If the council decides in December to issue the bonds, Jim Maine said he will circulate a petition that would force the issue to a public election.

I have written about this topic previously.  I think this is something big enough that it should go to the voters, especially since they have previously rejected plans for a new library. 

Depending on the current budget state of the city, it may be possible to issue bonds and repay them without affecting the tax rate (I recall the city manager saying at one point that some early debt payoff had left room for further bond expansion¹), but I’m skeptical of it.  But aside from the bond issue, there’s the issue of ongoing staffing and support.  This new library will require staff to run it, and it will have ongoing maintenance and operational costs.  At this time we can’t afford to keep the existing library open for extended hours.  How do they think we’re going to pay for these ongoing costs without raising taxes?  Further, we have fire and police positions that are unstaffed (at least they were the last time I checked).  Until we have full fire and police coverage it seems irresponsible to me to be building and staffing a new library.

¹ I’m not sure where I got this from.  The city manager came to the Citizen’s Police Academy one night and gave a presentation on the city budget, but a quick scan of the 2005 city budget doesn’t show anything like this.  Perhaps I was on drugs at the time?  cool hmm


  1. Mike says:

    This City Council and many of the boards are run on way too much “feeling” and petty one-upsmanship. Southlake has a new library-now we need one. The Seniors in Keller love it because they get a free ride on every city service that increases in price due to the socialist senior tax freeze in which Mr. Holmes (“it can’t go to a vote because it might go either way”) cast the deciding despicable vote in 2004. Now he wants a vote. I say he’s covering his backside for spring elections when his vote that brought the senior tax freeze to Keller may become an issue.

    The library O&M costs, as you state, will be significant. I use Google, web feeds and bookmarks for my 24 x 7 library.

  2. I was particularly incensed by the comments of one of our council members (can’t remember which one at the moment, though… will have to dig up the last Keller Citizen).  His comment was something to the effect that it would be too hard to educate voters on the issues.  Which I interpreted to mean that we voters are too stupid to understand the nuances that he sees, and it’s likely we can’t be made to give them the expected outcome.  The arrogance reeking from that statement is mind-boggling.