Mayor addresses library questionsHudson Mayor Dean Knudson provided answers to four questions about the city’s possible acquisition of the Nuclear Management Co. building when he met with fellow members of the Hudson Area Intergovernmental Advisory on Oct. 26.
Hudson Mayor Dean Knudson provided answers to four questions about the city’s possible acquisition of the Nuclear Management Co. building when he met with fellow members of the Hudson Area Intergovernmental Advisory on Oct. 26.
Knudson has proposed relocating the Hudson Area Joint Library and the city’s police department to the building.
The city has entered into an agreement to purchase building, but the deal is contingent upon the library board of directors agreeing to lease part of the building from the city.
The library board voted to approve proposed move at its meeting Monday evening, Nov. 9.
The mayor’s responses to the four questions about the plan (which he also provided) follow.
Why was a referendum required for the 2008 proposal but not this time?
Municipal governments may not increase taxes more than a few percent in any year without seeking permission in a referendum. The plan that failed at referendum called for a large increase in library spending by the joint library municipal partners.
For example, annual library spending in that plan nearly doubled with an increase of $500,000. Under the current proposal the library will pay the same cost per square foot as in the current facility, or an additional $55,000 per year including utilities, maintenance and janitorial service.
No referendum is required under this plan because municipal library support is not being increased. The library board will need to find additional money through other funding sources, private donations, accumulated reserves or budget cuts in other areas.
With the current economic recession, high unemployment and weak real estate market, is this a good time to expand the library and raise taxes?
This plan does not raise taxes.
For several years the library has been accumulating funds to be used for expansion. The city has also set aside funds over the past several years for the construction or acquisition of facilities.
Accumulated funds mean over 80 percent of the project will be funded with cash, while only 20 percent of the cost will be borrowed. The combination of a shared facility, a more affordable purchase price, minimal borrowing and the sale of the Fourth Street building make this plan work without raising taxes.
Will the library ever be able to expand into the entire building at 700 First St.?
The library will be granted an option to purchase the real estate from the city. The city intends to build a new public safety building in the future. During the 2008 Lakefront Library campaign, the library board and the Hudson Area Library Foundation believed that $5 million in private donations could be raised over a three- to five-year period.
The current proposal will still require private donations, but the amount required will be lower. When donations are sufficient, the library may purchase the building and the police department will move into a new facility.
Is it smart to have the police department and the library in the same building? Is it safe?
There are many examples of shared library/police facilities that work. In St. Croix County, the Baldwin library is one example.
Access to the police department through private, secure entrances not used by the public is one key to successful sharing of a building.
In the proposed sharing plan, the police will have a separate entrance from the parking lot, as well as private access through the underground parking. Expert analysis of this building has indicated that it is suitable for shared use.