The Starke County Council approved a proposal by the Starke County Library Board to finance an expansion-renovation project. A representative from Umbaugh and Associates told the council members that the bonds would not exceed $1,785,000 and would cost the taxpayers 17 cents per $1,000 in assessed valuation.
Councilwoman, Judy Benninghoff, who voted against the project, said that she had not talked to anyone in favor of the project, mainly because of the tax implication. She also said there is a perception that Knox gets everything, and the branches get little.
Another “no” vote was cast by council Vice President Mitch Semans who posed this question during the discussion.
“Is there really a growth element in the next 10 to 20 years with all of the advancement in technology?” asked Semans. “The schools now have given laptops to all of the kids. Technology has really taken off and taken over. Do you still see that growth being there with technology?”
Interim Director, Sheila Urwiler, said she sees a lot of growth in many areas of the library. She mentioned the use of Wi-Fi by children with computers and home schooled children use the library for research and other projects.
Commissioner Jennifer Davis, who was assigned the task of forming a committee to look into the needs at the library, spoke in favor of the expansion.
“I think a good library indicates a good quality of life for many people,” she stated. “Even if they don’t use the library all the time, it’s the fact that it is there and it’s accessible. That’s my opinion and however it goes, it goes. I think we should continue with it.”
Starke County Economic Development Director, Charles Weaver, also made an impassioned presentation for the request. Weaver said when he brought representatives considering factory re-location to Knox they were always impressed that the community had such a marvelous library facility. He said that it denotes that the county is interested in quality of life issues.
The Umbaugh representative said the project would not impact any decision on a new jail or the circuit breaker. The library will pay off a 20 year bond at the end of the year, and enter into a similar arrangement to finance the project.