City Government

For You Library Types

The Boise public library is making history by offering the citizens of our fair city a chance to actually VOTE on how their tax dollars are spent. The last bond election was at least 10 years ago when a park bond failed.

After that failed attempt, the city switched to a strategy of asking judges to call anything and everything “ordinary and necessary.” Those scam financing schemes have resulted in the city paying taxes on fire stations and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. A pending Idaho Supreme court decision could further define ordinary and necessary. _MG_7317.jpg

After a recent cross country road trip with frequent library stops, it became obvious to the GUARDIAN that more than anything else–maybe even more important than sources for books–libraries have evolved into computer based information sources. They are also hangouts for homeless people–a fact that must be acknowledged.

Small branches in Austin, Texas include a carousel of computers for public use, in suburban Des Moines the library is combined with a police station and city office, and Indianapolis has a temporary facility which is jammed with security guards, closed circuit TV and rooms full of computers with an eclectic group of folks at the keyboards. (For you non-library types: eclectic refers to a “mixed bag” of ideas and tastes.)

Although we didn’t visit it, the new Salt Lake City Library is the cream of the crop and was funded by a $60 plus million bond approved by over 80 % of the voters. It comes complete with a parking garage, auditorium, and is located on LIBRARY SQUARE.

The Boise library board and staff have been saddled with two locations which were purchased in secret land deals by the city council and the locations were selected by a single private real estate agent with no public input. They may or may not meet the approval of voters. We suggest open discussion in ALL public expenditures.

The public will finally have its voice at the polls in the form of a bond election–which we applaud. Proponents at the city need to be scrupulous in observing a recent Idaho Supreme Court Decision which prohibits using public funds or assets to promote one side of an election issue.

Whatever is eventually built to serve our citizen’s library needs MUST be approved by the voters who pay the bills. Our only concern is that consultants, experts, and others from out of town will be imposing their “visions” on Boiseans.

At least one plan was previously floated for a huge central library with a Barnes & Noble-type coffee shop and food court with rooftop dining. That plan was accompanied by financial guesses of how much “profit” could be had for rental space etc. One needs to look at the Ada County Courthouse and the surrounding debacle of empty commercial space
to see the folly of that plan.

For the record, the GUARDIAN supports libraries. If this bond doesn’t pass, it will not be the final word and Boise officials need to listen carefully to objections before coming back for a second try if it is required.

While they plan to combine libraries with indoor recreational facilities, we hear no mention of anything for the police department which has claimed to need more space for years. Does that mean the slush fund the city has been “saving” will preclude any voice of the voters?

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I’m a little skeptical that voters will agree to spend the additional dollars required for all the add-ons mentioned in todays Statesman article.

  2. I agree that taxpayers are in no mood to approve bonds when plans appear to be extravagant. If lattes are desired, we have several book stores already available. Not necessarily my sentiment, but surely that of many I have spoken to. I would add that the Boise Police Department at one time had a plan for purchasing and remodeling the old Ada Court facility on Barrister. It would have allowed plenty of room for a growing dept. with growing needs. Alas, it was not “grand” enough to suit the powers at the time. The plan was kept quiet from the public and ultimately scrapped. Ada County Sheriff now utilizes the space. Sometimes a conservative bird in the hand is truly better than grandeur in the bush. Counting on judicial confirmation left them out in the cold. Bet they wish they’d done it different now.

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