Bill would give board of Eudora Public Library taxing authority, allow bond referendum for new library

A bill working its way through the Kansas Legislature would give the Eudora Public Library board the authority to raise money through property taxes, which the library’s board president said would help keep finances stable as fundraising efforts for a new library continue.

Senate Bill 59 would also allow the board to put a bond issue referendum before voters to help fund the new library, board president Eric Magette said.

The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, would authorize the city of Eudora and Eudora Township to pass a joint resolution creating the Eudora Community Library District, Magette said. The district would include all of the city and township, and it would have the authority to raise up to 5 mills of property taxes for the library.

That would put the library on much more stable footing than the current situation, in which the library is annually dependent on both the city and the township approving funding for the library in their respective budgets, Magette said.

“We feel really good about the direction we’re heading,” he said. “It’s been a long couple of years finding a way forward. The city, the township and the library are all on the same page and going in the same direction.”

The other major provision of the bill, which allows the library to put a bond referendum before voters, would be a major step toward funding the new library, Magette said. Library supporters launched a capital campaign in 2017 with the goal of raising at least a third of the about $3 million needed to replace the four-decade-old, 2,500-square-foot library at 14 E. Ninth Street with a new 10,000- to 12,000-square-foot facility. The rest of that funding could be raised using bonds, Magette said.

“This bill is the first step to starting the conversation about how we fund a new library,” he said.

The first phase of the capital campaign, which sought donations from individuals and families, ended in July 2018 with $300,000 in pledges. Eudora Public Library director Carol Wohlford said library supporters have transitioned into a two-year second phase that is seeking $700,000 in pledges from corporations and foundations. If that goal is realized, the capital campaign will meet its goal of providing $1 million of the $3 million needed to build the new library.

Magette said the bill passed out of the Kansas Senate on Wednesday and is now in the House Local Affairs Committee.


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