The idea that the Chapel Hill Town Council is even considering expanding the town’s public library during a period when revenues have dried up and taxes are high is a bit absurd.
The proposed expansion, delayed Monday night, would cost $16.5 million and would be financed by bonds. The bonds would be paid back through new taxes, about $26.20 for the owner of a $200,000 home in 2012.
The Chapel Hill Public Library is a great institution that has come a long way since its opening in 1958. And we hope it continues to flourish.
But the town should be able to sustain the library’s excellence without spending $16.5 million and raising taxes for residents.
One of the concerns cited by council members during the meeting was nonresidents using the library.
But instead of worrying about who will use the library if it is expanded, the council should focus on its budget priorities and residents’ needs.
Adding more library stacks pales in comparison to making sure citizens are safe and are provided with adequate services. $16.5 million will certainly distract from such budget priorities, while adding the extra burden of a new tax on residents.
An enormous library collection already exists at UNC. If an individual is unable to find a certain book at the town library, all they have to do is head to the University.
A borrower’s card costs just $25 annually for those not affiliated with the University.
The council will revisit the $16.5 million project after they discuss the issue with the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
They should either reconsider funding the project expansion or find a more fiscally realistic way to ensure the town library remains the quality institution that it is.
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