City joins partners in approving amended library agreementThe Hudson City Council on Monday night joined the towns of Hudson and St. Joseph, and the village of North Hudson, in approving a new operating agreement for Hudson Area Joint Library.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
The Hudson City Council on Monday night joined the towns of Hudson and St. Joseph, and the village of North Hudson, in approving a new operating agreement for Hudson Area Joint Library.
There was little discussion of that agreement, however, as council members instead turned their attention to the major capital project that the partners will need to agree to if they are going to buy the Nuclear Management Co. building to be the new home for the library.
The most significant change in the operating agreement will come only if the partner municipalities decide to purchase the NMC building. Then, the partners would be bound to the joint library for a 25-year period. After that period had passed, they would have to give notice five years in advance of leaving the library.
All of the partner municipalities are planning to ask voters in the Nov. 4 election whether they should purchase the NMC building.
They also will need approval from the electorate to exceed the state-imposed tax levy limit in order to pay for the building and its operation.
Monday night, Mayor Dean Knudson sought direction from the City Council on how much private funding for the project should be raised before the municipalities commit to it.
In the end, the council directed him to ask for not less than $4 million in private funds to be raised by Sept. 20, 2009, before any public funds are expended. Council members also agreed that the original plan to have 50 percent of the funding come from private sources and 50 percent from public sources should be maintained.
Knudson said the top elected officials in each of the municipalities initially said the Hudson Area Library Foundation needed to raise $2 million from private sources before the municipalities would move forward.
When the foundation said that wasn’t possible, Knudson suggested that it raise $1 million by Sept. 20, 2008, and $4 million by Sept. 20, 2009.
He reported that a foundation representative told the group municipal heads at a meeting early Monday morning that the goal of $1 million by Sept. 20 of this year also would be impossible to meet.
With that, he asked council members what fund-raising guidelines they would suggest.
“It is time for us to give some clear direction to the partners and yourselves,” Knudson said.
He said he remained convinced that half of the funding for the NMC building purchase and renovation should come from private sources.
The cost of buying, remodeling and operating the NMC building as a library is expected to add $26 per $100,000 of assessed property value to city residents’ tax bills. The 2008 levy of $16 per $100,000 of property value for library services would rise to $42 in 2009.
The increases would be greater in the other municipalities.
In the village of North Hudson, the library levy would increase from $19 per $100,000 in 2008 to an estimated $61 in 2009.
Knudson said North Hudson would see a greater increase than the city because the costs of the library will be shared on the basis of population instead of property valuation in the future.
Alderperson Scot O’Malley said the average levy for library services in Wisconsin cities is $66 per $100,000 of property value.
Alderperson Randy Morrissette II expressed frustration that the Library Foundation hasn’t begun a fund-raising campaign.
Knudson said the foundation has begun some fund-raising. It has received a commitment of a substantial amount of money from a major donor, he said, but the money will be given over a five-year period.
The mayor said it also is difficult for the foundation to do fund-raising without an approved capital improvement plan and to receive commitments from donors on short notice.
O’Malley said the history of fund-raising for Hudson civic projects is that the goals are met, but the money comes in slower than desired.
“I just don’t want to see our taxpayers being left without a chair when the music stops,” said Morrissette. He noted that the city also needs new public safety facilities.
Alderperson Alan Burchill was concerned about paying the increased operational costs for the library if it moves to the NMC building.
Knudson said the projected 2009 tax of $42 per $100,000 of property value for library services includes operational costs.
The projected $1.25 million annual operating budget for the library couldn’t be increased without the approval of all the municipal partners, he added.
O’Malley said the $1.25 million estimate of the operating costs is on the high side, and that it likely wouldn’t be increased for a number of years.