Weber Commission approves new bond for library; amount to be determined

Mar 27 2013 - 9:41am


OGDEN -- The Weber County Commission had another packed house as the commissioners voted to approve a bond election to improve the Weber County Library system.

The county will use mail-in ballots with the hopes of drawing more people to participate in the June special election.

"I like the idea of vote-by-mail," Commission Chairman Kerry Gibson said. "I would not be able to support that right now if it wasn't that."

However, the amount of the bond issue is still to be decided.

The commissioners have expressed concern about the $49.75 million the library has asked for in the general obligation bond.

"I think $50 million is too much," Commissioner Matthew Bell said.

Bell said he would be more comfortable approving the bond if it were at least $10 million less.

If the bond issue is approved, a private residence would pay $11 for every $100,000 in value and a commercial property would pay $20 per every $100,000.

Weber County Comptroller Dan Olsen said the project could not be completed without a tax increase. However, the county would wrap the bond around current debt, increasing the payment amount as old bonds expired, to lessen the impact.

Still, Bell repeatedly expressed concerns over the project's cost, such as spending the extra money to renovate and construct the proposed building to the highest efficiency standards.

"I just think we have something in there and we are trying to do too much," Bell said.

Library officials, however, said that being cheap would cost the county more down the road, and that architects and engineers derived the figures to provide the maximum benefit to the county for the foreseeable future.

"Everyone would be more comfortable with $40 million or $30 million," Weber County Library Director Lynnda Wangsgard said. "The issue is, we have a pretty sophisticated plan that is lock-stepped in nature."

The five-year plan put forward by the Weber County Library system calls for the construction of a new southwest branch library in Roy to accommodate the growing population in the western area of the county.

Upon completion, the library system would move all administrative and support services to the new building.

With work completed on the southwest branch, the library would renovate the north branch, in North Ogden, and the current main branch in Ogden to remove asbestos, as well as fix electrical and plumbing issues in the building.

The library would also expand parking at the Ogden Valley branch, so it could better serve as a community center.

If the commission does not approve the $50 million price tag, Wangsgard said the library system will probably have to lop off one of the projects.

Even with misgivings over the total price tag, the commission said it supports improving the library system, especially addressing safety issues at the main branch, which officials describe as facing "imminent catastrophic failure."

The commission hopes to vote on the final amount for the bond issue during its next regular weekly meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesdayin the Commission Chambers of the Weber Center, 2380 Washington Blvd.

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