The Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library will build a new branch in Worth Township after the Zionsville Town Council on July 6 voted 5-1 to approve funding for the project, a move that was questioned by some residents and one town council member.
The council authorized the issuance of general obligation bonds of the library district in an aggregate principal amount up to $9 million. The bonds will be paid by property taxes levied on all taxable property within the library district, which includes Eagle, Union and Worth townships. Perry Township residents, who are not in the library’s service district, also will be able to use the two locations, but for a fee.
In August 2020, the library added Worth Township to its service district, and this year, the Town of Whitestown donated 11 acres near Walker Farms for the new branch. Library officials said during a June town council meeting that construction on the new 23,000-square-foot branch is expected to begin in October and that it could open as soon as the fourth quarter of 2022. It will include a maker space area, a 2,550-square-foot, rentable meeting space and access to trails in natural spaces on-site.
By adding a branch in Worth Township, Sarah Moore, HMMPL’s executive director, said the library aims to increase offerings, expand service to residents on the west side of the library district and provide requested features outlined in the library’s 2019 strategic plan.
“For no increase from the 2020 debt service tax rate, this will provide access to an additional location with increased capacity for all card holders, to provide needed services, programs and spaces for our growing community, now and in the future,” Moore said.
But some residents questioned why a new branch in Worth Township, which primarily encompasses Whitestown, is necessary and why Zionsville residents should help pay for it. Zionsville Town Council member Brad Burk also questioned whether libraries would have the same demand when the bonds are paid off, which officials estimate could take 20 or more years. Burk was the only council member to vote against authorizing the bonds.
“Are we wisely investing $9 million in a library system?” Burk said during the meeting. “I’m cautious to tie up $9 million dollars and so much brick and mortar when every business in Indiana and around the world is reconsidering, myself included in my own work, downsizing office space and moving to virtual work. I just don’t want to get caught building for 2025, and we are not thinking 10 or 20 years down the road.”
Moore said libraries now serve as community centers, offering services beyond physical or electronic services.
Additionally, library officials said the library’s growing service district requires a new branch and that it will be a benefit to all residents. Whitestown has been one of the fastest-growing municipalities in Indiana for nearly a decade, and the library ranked fifth in the state in materials borrowed per capita in 2019. That year, the library had 10,089 cardholders who checked out 634,405 items, the equivalent of each patron checking out more than 62.8 items.
“At Boone Meadow Elementary, which is on the western side of the school district, the population is expected to grow by 5.8 percent each year,” Moore said. “(The new branch) will be convenient and will provide access to the growing population.”
The new branch is expected to provide space for more programs, including a larger meeting room. It also will allow for more nature programming and activities on the location’s 11 acres of mostly greenspace, which a survey sent to residents in the library’s service district revealed was their primary desired feature. The library’s existing location at 250 N. 5th St. limits its ability to offer nature programming and activities, Moore said.
“We’ve worked hard to understand the community needs and wants while remaining cognizant of taxpayer impacts,” Moore said. “The entire library district is paying for this library location, and the entire library district will have access to this library. There was that house analogy. We are not building a house for our neighbors. We are building another house that other people will have access to because our house is too small.”
For more, visit hmmpl.org.
The impact on taxpayers
Taxpayers will pay for the $9 million bonds used to pay for the acquisition, construction, installation and equipping of a new Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library branch.
The bond repayment tax rate for all Eagle, Union and Worth Township residents will not exceed a rate of $0.0159. As the townships grow over time and more developments bring additional assessed value that can be taxed, rates will only decrease for residents, library officials say.
Although library officials considered other bond size payments, they settled on $9 million because the branch would have been significantly smaller if the council approved, for example, $7 million bonds. Moore said taxpayers with a $385,000 home would save $6.76 annually if the council approved $7 million in bonds, and the new branch would have shrunk from a 23,000-square-foot building to a 16,000-square-foot building.
“To put that another way, that would be less than one-third of one floor of our current library building,” Moore said. “And we’d really reduce the spaces we have available to make the library the type of community center that our service area is looking for.”