New library coming, but taxpayers will have to pay for it
There will be money in the town's coffers to build a new Georgetown library starting in 2008 but it means tax increases of about 5 per cent for the next five years. Halton Hills Chief Administrative Officer Dennis Perlin and Director of Finance Ed DeSousa outlined a financing plan for a new library in Georgetown to the town's budget committee last week. Committee approved the plan unanimously and council confirmed the decision Monday. Library Board chair, Jay Jackson is "very pleased that Town council has embraced the need to build a new library given the growth in Halton Hills," he said in a statement Tuesday. The financing plan includes $8 million for a 20,000 sq. ft library and $1 million for alternations to the 12,000 sq. ft. in the Halton Hills Cultural Centre (whether a modified branch remains there or not). "The ($1 million) will demonstrate that council is committed to making a contribution to revitalization of the Cultural Centre," said Perlin. Dollars for the future expansion and improvement to the Acton library is still uncertain and will be considered sometime after 2011. The financing plan is based on assumptions including: · A maximum 5 per cent tax increase each year through 2010. This would ensure that the library gets funding, but does not undermine other planned capital programs, such as parks and roads. In 2006-2008, two per cent of that five is dedicated to pavement management program. Then the 2 per cent extra tax would continue for the years 2009 (1 per cent to the library) and 2010 (1.6 per cent to the library). During this time, no other major capital projects that impacts the budget above the 5 per cent increase would be considered. Financing will also come from about $2 million in development charges and a $1 million loan, if necessary. · A 20,000 sq. ft. new library would be built as an addition to the Gellert Centre, where site servicing and land already exists. However the final decision on the size and location of the library rests with the library board-- an appointed body of residents and two councillors.
The scenario would also require about $650,000 in operating costs for a new library and for the alteration and maintenance of the Cultural Centre. · Construction of a two-floor addition onto the Gellert would be begin in 2008, with occupancy in 2010. Alterations on the Cultural Centre would commence in 2010. Councillor Bob Inglis, a library board member, said the plan was impressive. "This is really putting into the forecast that `we're serious (about funding a library)', and I'm really impressed that financing is also there for the existing building," said Inglis. Director of Library Services Jane Diamanti said she is "very excited by the prospect of a new branch that will offer much needed space for collections, comfortable space for people to gather, read, and study, and sufficient and appropriate space for the delivery of children's programs. We are looking forward to a new branch that is functional, fully accessible, and welcoming to all members of our community." Currently the Georgetown branch is about half the size it should be for the population now served. By 2011, the Georgetown branch service area population is projected to grow by another 6 per cent to 40,000. Without this new branch by 2010, library service to this community will be seriously compromised, said Diamanti. While the board sees the financing plan for a 20,000 sq. ft. building as a significant step, in the long-term, a study has shown that the Georgetown branch needs to be 33,000 sq. ft. to meet the projected population of 2021. In the next few months, the library board will be considering how best to utilize the smaller-sized building, and will develop a service delivery model based on number, size and location of branch or branches to present to council for approval. Any resident who wishes to comment on a new library branch for Georgetown is invited to do so in person, via fax, 905-8736118 or through the library's website at: www.library.hhpl.on.ca. Click on "Contact Us/Ask Us".