The Allen County Public Library board April 28 voted to borrow $98.5 million for the library’s master plan for replacement and expansion of its branches.
After a second public hearing, board members Ben Eisbart, Martin Siefert, Jim Williams, Paul Moss, Kent Castleman and Gloria Shamanoff voted 6-0 in favor of the resolution for bonds. Board member Sharon Tucker was absent.
David Sedestrom, library chief financial officer, said while the renovation and expansion work on the library’s targeted buildings will cost $118 million, the project total will actually be $125 million because of needed land acquisitions.
While the plan calls for new locations for possibly up to five branches, which will result in sales of the current land, the library would still need $5 million above the potential land sales. The final $2 million of the $125 million total will be needed for issuing bonds, including legal and financial counsel fees.
The $125 million cost will come from two sources: $26.5 million from the library and $98.5 million in bonds. The implementation of the plan will take 8-10 years.
A conservative calculation of the effect on the taxpayer will be an additional 4-cent tax rate to the current 14 cents, according to Todd Samuelson, a partner with Baker Tilley, who laid out the financing for the master plan.
The owner of a home assessed at $100,000 would pay an additional $1.10 monthly, or $13.20 a year. Those with agricultural land would pay 60 cents a year per acre of land, or $60.30 annually per 100 acres. The owner of a $100,000 commercial property, including rental property, would pay $40.20 a year.
The library is in a good position to borrow. Its source of repayment of the bonds is Allen County property taxes. In the past five years, the tax base has grown 6-7% annually, about $4 billion, with development in Fort Wayne suggesting that it will continue in that direction, Samuelson said.
In the past 10 years, the library’s portion of property taxes has declined. The library undertook an $84 million expansion/renovation in 2001. As the bonds were being paid off, from 2013 to 2019 the library’s tax rate was 19-21 cents. That bond debt has been paid and the library has no outstanding debt, Samuelson pointed out.
With Allen County’s nearly $19.14 billion tax base, the library actually has the ability to issue up to $127 million in bonds, Samuelson said.
The master plan, as accepted by the library board at its special April 7 meeting, includes the following:
• A replacement Aboite branch of nearly 25,000 square feet
• A replacement Dupont branch of nearly 25,000 square feet that would be farther south than its current 536 E. Dupont Road, Fort Wayne, location
• A replacement Shawnee branch of nearly 20,000 square feet
• A totally new 15th branch in the Huntertown area that would be a minimum of 15,000 square feet that could expand up to 30,000 square feet
No sites have been chosen for the new branches.
• An expansion of the Georgetown branch to 25,000 square feet, which would require purchase of adjacent land. If no neighboring land could be acquired, a replacement branch would be built at an undetermined site in close proximity to the current branch in Georgetown Square at 6600 E. State Blvd., Fort Wayne.
• The Grabill branch, 13521 Grabill Road, would get a 4,000-square-foot renovation/expansion
• The Waynedale branch, 2200 Lower Huntington Road, Fort Wayne, would get a 2,500-square-foot renovation/expansion
• The Little Turtle, Tecumseh, Monroeville, New Haven and Woodburn branches would get reconfigurations and systems upgrades.
• The main library would get facilities enhancements and minor reconfigurations to improve building navigation and access to the library’s collections.
• The Pontiac and Hessen Cassel branches, while not mentioned at the April 28 meeting, are listed in the plan as getting renovations.
“This is not going to the be end of public engagement,” Kim Bolan, chief of public service operations, said. Bolan emphasized that in addition to analysis of trends and input from library staff that the plan incorporated the public’s recommendations. A previous public hearing on the master plan was held April 21.
The 188-page master plan can be viewed at YourACPL.org with a printed copy also at the library and each of its library branches.