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Our View: Library - The vote and what it means

Library supporters throughout the area are excited about the upcoming referendum regarding the library, and well they should be.

Citizens, however, should keep in mind that this is a very fragile process that began last spring when voters in all area municipalities said they wanted officials to proceed and investigate the potential of a new library. The plan on the table calls for purchasing the NMC building in downtown Hudson and remodeling it into a new library. The total bill is expected to be in the $9.5 to 10.5 million range.

There have been several news reports recently from the various municipalities talking about the approval of referendum questions for the Nov. 4 election. In those reports have been discussions regarding language about borrowing large sums of money, issuing general obligation bonds, exceeding the state tax levy limit, etc.

What should be noted, however, is that the referendum in November is not binding. What makes it complicated, however, is that it is sort of an all-or-nothing proposal.

Municipal governments will have the authority to still approve or reject the proposal even if referendums pass in all the affected municipalities. If, however, any or all questions fail in a single municipality it could nix the entire deal.

On top of that, the questions are complicated by the fact that at least $4 million of the project must be raised privately by November 2009.

As was said once before: It is a long, multifaceted and complex journey!

The four municipalities represented on the Hudson Area Joint Library Board are the city of Hudson, village of North Hudson, town of Hudson and town of St. Joseph. The town of Troy is not involved in the referendum process. Troy was asked to consider a ballot question for a donation ($300,000 toward the $4 million in private funding) and could not muster the votes to even put the question on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The bottom line is that four local municipalities are following the voters' wishes by putting the questions on the ballot, but will still have to answer the hard questions later. How much are taxpayers willing to contribute to the purchase and improvements for a new library, the ongoing expenses of operating a new library, and will the library be the highest item on the priority in the various municipalities?

It is obvious in talking with some local officials that they do not endorse the library project. They are currently completing the technical obligation of fulfilling the wishes of the voters -- no more, no less.

A new library is an exciting concept and it would be nice to see it become a reality. But it won't come easy. The Nov. 4 referendum could be the easy part -- the tough decisions and work will come later.