A 3-mill real and personal property tax for Searcy residents to support a bond issue will be requested in a special election on May 9. This tax will allow plans to move forward in building a new public library for the town of Searcy and retiring the current facility.
According to Darla Ino, director of the White County Regional Library System, they are hoping to raise a total of $13 million for the new library. Approximately $9.2 to $9.8 million would go towards the actual construction of the facility while the other $3.2 to $3.8 million would cover all other expenses such as furniture and equipment. Ino said that although the bond is a 30-year bond, they are confident that it will be paid off in less than 20 years based on the successfulness of grants and private donations that they will campaign for. According to Ino, the tax increase will cost Searcy’s medium household family about $5.66 per month.
“It’s not just a metal building to throw up and move into, it’s something we know is going to be a landmark type of building,” Ino said. “We want to do it right, to do something that the community is proud of. We feel like it just adds significantly to the quality of life for people that live here and also for people who visit. They will know that Searcy is a place that values education.”
The current Searcy Public Library was built in 1966 when the population of Searcy was around 9 thousand people, according to Ino. Today, Ino said, the population is around 23 thousand and several assessments of the library have suggested that the space is simply not big enough. In April 2016, the city council granted them the site of Searcy’s old community pool beside Berryhill Park. According to Ino, several focus groups and community members visited the library to provide opinions of the current facility to ensure that the new library will include things the community wants and needs.
Searcy resident senior Rebecca Buterbough said that she believes a new library is needed for the Searcy community, but that she feels the tax is not necessary.
“We already pay a lot in taxes,” Buterbough said. “If the library is important to the community, which I think it is and it should be, we should be raising the money through fundraising and just any other way.”
City Alderman Steve Sterling said the city council has chosen not to take a position on the mileage and have not asked for a resolution either for or against.
Ino said that the new facility will be two stories and will include many new features such as more room for collections, computers and meeting rooms as well as a drive through for book returns and pick up. There will be another meeting at the library April 20 at 5 p.m. to address any concerns or feedback from the public. If the vote passes on May 9, construction is set to break ground around the end of this year or the beginning of 2018 and the proposed grand opening is set for March of 2019. You can visit the White County Library website to view the needs assessment and the building program for the new facility.