Bremen Public Library reno project Dec 2020Monday morning members of the Marshall County Council conducted a public hearing that lasted two-hours on the General Obligation Bond for the Bremen Public Library Project.

The Bremen Public Library has proposed a $3,065,000 project that will renovate the existing library, construct an addition to the library building and reconfigure the parking lot.  The project will add meeting spaces, create a dedicated young adult area, improve the parking lot, address the cabling, wiring and internet issues and many other improvements.

Library Director Chris Scandling said the project has been in the works for seven years.  He said it has been 30 years since they have done a major renovation and the way people use the library has changed over those years.  It was noted they’ve doubled the number of card holders and the number of people coming into the building as well as providing three times more programs.  Scandling said, “Libraries are the cornerstone of a community.”

Todd Samuelson from BakerTilly briefly discussed the financing of the project noting the total project cost is $3,065,000 and the library will put $230,000 cash towards the project, so they are borrowing $2,835,000.  The bond issue will be over 19 years at an annual payment is expected to be about $180,000.

Samuelson said the tax impact will be about 3.5 cents.  The average household ($139,600) will see an impact of $20.70 a year.  The farm ground impact will be about $.46 per acre.

Councilman Jesse Bohannon asked if the Bremen Library had looked for any grant opportunities or if they had sought any TIF funds from the city for the project to offset the tax impact.  He noted that the library would still have a million dollars in their cash reserves and felt they could add additional funds to reduce the tax impact.

Seventeen people spoke during the public hearing with fifteen of them being supportive of the project.  Trend Weldy, Director of Operations for the Town of Bremen spoke on the money the TIF District has.  He said there are major projects including an extension of a sewer, water and storm line to Southwire, a new water tower is needed for fire protection and with infrastructure is old and needs work.

Shelia Reed, a lifelong Bremen resident and a retired educator, author, artist, landowner and tax payer.  She said, “The quality of life in a community is created by a number of interlocking pieces of which a public is one of them.”  She said no one in the room disagrees with the purpose of a library, of its importance in community life or it’s importance in society. Ms. Reed called the project modest, saying, “It’s not a TajMahal.  It is a much needed, timely upgrade of a community resource.”

Two, farmers John Radar and Marvin Houin were opposed to the project due to the impact they will see.  Radar said, “These people here, I respect them.  We all love libraries, but the burden of the financing is actually falling on the farming community, agricultural community and business community.  It’s only $400 for the next 19 years.  That’s no big deal. We’ve got more acreage and that makes it a big deal.”  He said there should be other ways to fund the project such as fundraisers.

Marvin Houin said he has visited the library and said it needs attention.  He suggested asking the community to support the project through donations, similar to the hospital project.  Houin said, “The farming community is 1.2% of the population of German Township.  You’re asking them to pay the majority of the cost of this.”  Mr. Houin suggested getting the landscaping class from the high school to do the project to save money and give the kids a chance to volunteer.

After the public hearing, County Council members discussed the request to pass resolution 2020-29 approving the issuance of general obligation bonds for the Bremen Public Library.

Council President Tim Harman said, “I’ve studied the project quite a bit and took a tour of the library.”  He continued saying, “We threw out ideas at the town council meeting to collaborate and find ways to fund the project by keeping the tax impact as minimal as possible.  They suggested TIF funds, an increase from $230,000 of library funds to $500,000 or the town’s River Boat funds of $365,000. Harman said $300,000 for new furniture, $50,000 for landscaping and $300,000 for improvements to the parking look seemed excessive.

There were 75 to 100 letters received from citizens supportive of the meeting while only two were not in favor.

Jim Masterson motioned to approve the resolution and it was seconded by Mandy Campbell.  In a roll call vote, Health Thornton, Jim Masterson, Mandy Campbell, Jon VanVactor and Steve Harper voted in favor while Tim Harman and Jesse Bohannon voted against the resolution.

Once announced that it passed the room erupted in applause.