May 12, 2014

Leasing space in the Depot Business Center will not cost the city an additional $23 million in library operations over the course of 20 years, despite Greg Siemann's newspaper advertisements to the contrary, said Carroll Public Library director Kelly Fischbach.

The advertisements have been running since the Carroll City Council last debated the Carroll library issue - for three hours - at its April 14 meeting. The debate on how to address the city's inadequate library - and on the validity of the numbers presented by each side - will continue tonight in council chambers at 5:15 p.m.

Siemann, a Carroll attorney and former member of the Library Board of Trustees, based his calculations on operations costs at libraries that are significantly larger than Carroll's - such as the library in Muscatine, which serves about 25,000 people, said Fischbach.

The operations cost for the first year in the new leased facility would be about $523,000 - nearly 20 percent more than the budgeted $438,000 for fiscal year 2015 for operations in the current building. This increase would be due to additional programming made possible through the larger facility - technology classes for adults and senior citizens, gaming nights for teenagers and green screen access for students are just a few of Fishbach's ideas - as well as gas and electric costs, purchases such as toilet paper for the library rest rooms, and garbage pickup - costs split with city hall and the police department at the library's existing location.

But the operation costs would not increase 20 percent every year, Fischbach emphasized. In the last four years, the largest library budget increase was 8.6 percent; and over the last 20 years, the operations budget has increased an average of less than 5 percent per year.

If library operations continue to increase 5 percent per year, the operations cost in the leased facility would be about $17 million over 20 years - $4 million more than the operations cost of the current library if they increase 5 percent per year for the next 20 years.

Additionally, the cost of the lease and property taxes for 20 years would be less than $3.5 million. To more than double the existing 10,400 square feet of space in the library, the 20-year cost would be about $7.5 million more than the existing library.

In order to renovate the current library to have the same amount of space available through the lease option - 23,000 square feet - the city would have to pass a $4.6 million bond issue, with the Library Foundation kicking in $1.3 million. The building cost would be $3 million more than the lease and would increase the tax rate 70 cents per $1,000 of valuation - compared with the zero-tax-rate impact of the lease option.

If the building were renovated, the operation costs would still increase because the additional space would make room for additional programing, said Fischbach.

To build a new 23,000-square-foot library, the building cost would be $9 million, plus the Library Foundation's $1 million, said Fischbach.