NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 24, 2013

Salisbury officials make case for new library

Building would add $40 to $50 a year to average tax bill, voters told

SALISBURY — At a public forum last night, town officials pointed to the small size and limited resources of the Salisbury Public Library when calling on voters to pass a proposal at the polls Tuesday to build a brand-new, larger facility.

The current public library on Salisbury Green is only 3,000 square feet, with every inch used, library trustee Joe Stucker said. The building is not handicapped-accessible, offers little technology and has no young adult section, he added, and its shelves are so full that a new book can’t be purchased without an existing book being tossed out.

The building was deemed too small in 1979, Stucker added.

The new library, which would also be built on Salisbury Green, would be an energy-efficient, 17,000-square-foot, two-story building.While its cost would amount to $7,452,330, taxpayers would only pay for 43 percent of it.

The size coincides with a 20-year projection of Salisbury’s expected growth and nationally accepted library standards. But the facility would be more than a traditional library, Stucker said. Like other libraries of the modern age, it wouldn’t just loan books — it will become “the center of culture” for townspeople, where it will “circulate information” of every kind, through traditional and new technologies.

To pay for the project, a fundraising effort will raise $400,000 in contributions, and taxpayers would have to raise $3.2 million. The rest would come from a state grant for $3,856,187, paying for 52 percent of the total.

But the grant only comes into play if voters approve the project by June 30. Without approval, the town could wait years before state money is available again.

On Tuesday, voters will approve or reject the debt exclusion question, the first of a two-part process needed to issue bonds for Salisbury’s share. If the question is approved, the new library would add $40 to $50 a year to the average residential tax bill for about five years, according to Town Manager Neil Harrington, which works out to 1.2 percent.

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