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Wadena library: Funding takes another step forward

With multiple funding options in the air, city moves ahead with a sure thing.

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A phased approach to the remodel shared March 24, 2021, offers a slightly pared-down option to bring the old bank building to life as a new library. Image courtesy BKV Group
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Wadena City Administrator Janette Bower is cautiously optimistic that the city will gain legislative approval to place the question of a .25 percent local sales tax before the voters in 2022 to help fund remodeling of a new library in the community.

If it makes it through the Legislature, and passes the 2022 ballot, the earliest the sales tax can be enacted is January 2023.

With considerable hurdles to clear, the city is moving forward with another funding solution in a general obligation bond that would fund this library project in the former First National Bank in Wadena. Bower believes that funds from the sales tax, if enacted, could be used to pay make bond payments.

“I have spoken with George Eilertson, Northland Securities regarding bond rates, payments, etc.,” Bower said in a written statement to the city council. “I also raised the question regarding ‘if a general obligation bond was issued now, can the bond payment be made out from the local sales tax proceeds once the local sales tax option is approved’. He stated that it could be done. We would need bond counsel’s assistance to write a resolution allowing the bond payment to be levied until the local sales tax is enacted.”

Based on an estimated $3 million bond, spread out over a preferred 20 years, the impact on a $100,000 home would be about $65.19 per year. Or in the words of councilman Wade Miller, “a Big Mac a month.”

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Moving to a 10-year bond would be more like $114.06 per year. The $3 million bond was high, however, and not an amount recommended by Bower.

The total estimated cost for the remodeling project is $2.7 million. The library volunteer group, Friends of the Wadena Library, have also been raising funds for the project. The council approved moving ahead with a "focused" concept of the remodel March 24, 2021.

RELATED: City moves ahead with $2.7 million renovation for new library
If the local sales tax is approved, property owners would not see this additional cost, except when making local purchases. The idea is that the sales tax is spread across a larger population than just the local residents.

Bower recommended going with a 20-year bond as a more manageable cost to property owners. She also indicated that this bond allows the project to take off well before a potential sales tax could be in place, yet funds could still be paid for using that tax. The sales tax would also expire either after 20 years or when the improvements have been fully financed.

The council unanimously approved going with a $2.3 million bond at 20 years.

Fundraising for the new library is also ongoing. To find out more, contact the library at (218) 631-2476.

Annual meeting

The Friends of the Wadena Library are having their Annual Meeting at 5 p.m., Monday, April 26. The in-person meeting will take place at the City of Wadena Administration Building in the City Council Chambers. You may also attend via Zoom. Contact the library for access instructions.

He's a writer, editor, photographer, truth seeker and promoter of the Wadena area.
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