Bond Ballot Language OK’d for New Library

The Ann Arbor District Library board approved ballot language for placing a $65 million bond proposal on the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot for a new downtown library. The board took the unanimous vote at a July 30 special meeting. Board member Ed Surovell was absent.

Two attorneys who are advising the AADL on this bond issue – James P. Kiefer of Dykema Gossett and Paul R. Stauder of Stauder, Barch & Associates – attended the meeting and answered questions from the board.

The ballot language states: “Shall the Ann Arbor District Library, formed by the Ann Arbor Public Schools and the City of Ann Arbor, County of Washtenaw, State of Michigan, borrow the sum of not to exceed sixty-five million dollars ($65,000,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds, in one or more series, payable in not to exceed thirty (30) years from the date of issuance of such bonds, for the purpose of paying all or part of the costs of constructing, furnishing and equipping a new main library building to be located at the current site of the downtown library building, including costs related thereto?”

In addition, the following informational text was approved by the board for the ballot: “The estimated millage to be levied in 2013 to pay the debt service on such bonds is 0.56 mills ($0.56 per $1,000 of taxable value) and the estimated simple average annual millage rate required to retire the bonds is 0.47 mills ($0.47 per $1,000 of taxable value). In accordance with State law, a portion of the revenue collected may be subject to capture by the City of Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority and the Scio Township Downtown Development Authority.”

The final ballot language will be authorized by the Washtenaw County clerk, Larry Kestenbaum.

Board members asked several questions for clarification, including one that was posed during public commentary by Lyn Davidge. She had asked about the phrase “or part of” in the ballot language, and wondered what that implied. Kiefer told the board that the phrase gives AADL flexibility. While AADL could spend the entire $65 million on the project, he said, if there is unexpected revenue from other sources – a grant, for example, or money bequeathed to the library in someone’s will – then the library wouldn’t be bound to spend the entire amount from the bonds.

After the meeting, the library immediately posted a six-page information sheet with frequently asked questions about the project. The FAQ includes a chart showing estimates of how much individual property owners will pay. For example, the owner of a house with a market value of $200,000 is expected to pay $56 annually, based on a levy of 0.56 mills.

AADL director Josie Parker stressed that the $65 million covers the cost of the entire project, not just the building itself. Other costs include demolition of the existing structure, moving costs and leases for temporary locations. If approved by voters, the bond millage would be initially levied in July of 2013. The new building would be on the downtown library’s current site at the northeast corner of Fifth and William. For additional background, see Chronicle coverage: “AADL Board: Renovation Not the Best Option” and “Campaign Launches for Library Bond.”

This brief was filed from the fourth-floor conference room of the downtown library at 343 S. Fifth Ave. A more detailed report will follow: [link]