Natrona County Public Library: Voters say 'No'

2012-11-06T21:55:00Z 2013-09-04T19:27:07Z Natrona County Public Library: Voters say 'No'By LEAH TODD Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online
November 06, 2012 9:55 pm  • 

In a contest even tighter than its 2008 counterpart, voters said "no" Tuesday to a proposed 1-cent special purpose sales tax that would have funded a new public library facility in downtown Casper.

Library tax opponents outvoted pro-special purpose sales tax voters by 588 votes -- an almost 2 percent margin. Unofficial final tallies showed 16,250 votes against the library tax and 15,662 votes for it.

The 1-cent sales tax would have temporarily increased Natrona County's sales tax to a total of 6 cents on every dollar. Prescriptions, gasoline and food would have been exempt from the statutorily temporary tax, which, according to Wyoming law regulating special purpose sales taxes, would have dissolved after the project's $29.7 million was raised.

A similar special purpose sales tax ballot measure failed in 2008, when a proposed 96,000-square-foot, $43 million facility was voted down in the general election. This year's library proposal was substantially smaller and less expensive than 2008's. At $29.7 million, the leaner price tag for the proposed 82,740-square-foot building was thanks in part to private donations to the Natrona County Public Library Foundation that purchased the proposed new library's 5.4-acre riverside lot.

About 1,500 votes kept the library 1-cent sales tax measure from success in 2008. Tuesday's margin was much narrower; fewer than 600 votes determined the library's defeat.

A recurring hurdle for library officials while publicizing the library initiative was a widespread belief that the statutorily temporary sales tax would, somehow, not be temporary.

“People are concerned that the tax will not go away, and that, somehow, politicians will extend it in some way,” library Director Bill Nelson said recently. “It will go away.”

Public concern also revolved around whether the $4.5 million sinking fund built into the library's $29.7 million total would be enough to cover the estimated $550,000 in annual operating costs for the new facility.

Currently serving a population more than twice as large as it was originally designed to accommodate, the Natrona County Public Library is cramped in its 32,742 square-foot building, supporters say. Overcrowded reading rooms and children's story times and shelves too high or too low for some library users' reach are just some of the challenges new-library supporters reiterated while pushing for the ballot measure throughout election season.

All six Natrona County municipalities voted unanimously this summer to approve the proposed tax's appearance on the general election ballot.

A pro-library political action committee launched an extensive campaign in August to promote its "1-cent x 2 years" motto. Yard signs, billboards, mailings and flashing digital signs decorated Natrona County in the months leading to the Election Day decision. The PAC raised more than $75,000 in private contributions, including at least $34,000 from the Library Foundation. The proposed new library would have been nearly three times bigger than the current facility.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(22) Comments

  1. brianvmax
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    brianvmax - November 13, 2012 4:16 pm
    disgusting residents, beautiful and classy? lets start by fixing our street's etc.. that everybody uses before throwing up a new building, oh and why should i subsidize "your daycare" since that is what half the people use it for, drop the kids off and let them be somebody else's problem.
  2. rgath
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    rgath - November 11, 2012 6:52 am
    voters said no.


    time to let it go.

    people simply do not believe the sixth cent will be "temporary".
  3. caseperite
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    caseperite - November 07, 2012 6:46 pm
    As someone who has only lived in Casper a few years it blows my mind how much people complain about the taxes we pay in this city/state. No state income tax, gas prices lower then pretty much every state, when a school needs to be built or rennovated how much actually comes out of the residents pockets? Casper residents have it great and yet won't pass a tax to try and improve the city because it helps so many. I hope that everyone who is complaining about the high taxes actually lives for a few years in a state that doesn't the wonderful benefits that we do.
  4. btrfly
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    btrfly - November 07, 2012 5:11 pm
    I voted against the proposed tax for the library as well. It was not because I don't support my community or want a handout. I would have voted for it were it to renovate the current one. I would have even voted for it to demolish the current building and build a new one on the current site. Libraries preserve history. Guess what, Casper's library has very historical roots. It's thanks to a women's group and Andrew Carnegie that we got a library in the first place. That is a lot of history to hold on to. Our downtown is steeped in history, and the library and it's site are part of that history.

    I also wanted more information about keeping up with technology and digital media with a new library because if we build a new one, I want us to keep up with modern technology.

    No I don't use the library. I use the internet and my kindle. Many in our community do not have such luxuries and guess what, the current library is in a location very helpful for many people. It also brings people to downtown and increases traffic (people shopping) for our downtown merchants.

    I have an 11 year old niece and I would love for her to experience a love for reading from being in a library like I did. But that can happen in an old room for a library or a huge building like the Library of Congress. We do have libraries in every school here in the district. We also have a great library at Casper College.

    I take offense at people calling those of us who voted against the tax as "uneducated," "wanting a hand out," or "disgusting."

    So let us say that those of us voting in Casper each have valid reasons we vote the way we do!

  5. carlover
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    carlover - November 07, 2012 4:17 pm
    well gee i cant imigine the library failed, i told ya it would. it was a bone to shut us all up about not being able to vote on projects costing millions more. as for the parkway. to me that is the perfect place for a new convention center, right along the highway and river and seen thousands of times each day. as for sweeny getting bonds, its no different then the hospital getting bonds over and over and over again. i also told you the library was number 36 on the list selected by your 196 specialy invited NGO's and developers for importance of downtown. they put their ;little red dots on presel;ected ideas and the library was not one of them. so that told me your fried. its not gonna happen. you want to know why the convention center is so important? well its to one make you think we even needed conventions, when there are centers all over the state that provide a much more interesting envirorment, skiing, dinning, and views then casper could or will ever to provide, and to see just how stupid are our officals we have, and boy we have a bunch... we are being sucked dry by bullchit scams. look on the hill, the events center empty 8 months a year, cost 11 million dollars. the college has a threate, so why do we need another one? kelly walsh has one, nc has one. repeatly the same use over and over. then you have the government going into business against the private sector? any one thought of that? duh...wake up.
  6. SU2C
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    SU2C - November 07, 2012 2:47 pm
    Some of disgusting residents voted against the Library Tax because we dont use the existing one.... I have an internet connection at home..... What percent of the new building was going to be dedicated to "Electronic" media?
  7. Panhead
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    Panhead - November 07, 2012 2:12 pm
    Exactly Casper_Why as well as paying these bonds back they have interest attached. This is not a public private partnership like they want to do with the convention center. I to was in favor of the library and there is no way that they could extend the tax without another vote. As soon as the project is done the tax goes away. No matter what people say, that is the state law.
  8. Casper_Why
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    Casper_Why - November 07, 2012 1:43 pm
    Even after the election there are people such as yourself who use misinformation to make there point. Legally there is no way that the one cent tax for the new library could be continued once the finance amount that was being ask for was accomplished. This might have happened in one year, two years or three years. No one really know how long it would have taken. If they need more money they would have had to go to the county government and asked for it or float a bond or have another election as they did here. Also, the money could only be used for the new library and nothing else. This was a county project and not a city project.

    I hope you are right and that they find a way to have a new library.
  9. nls
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    nls - November 07, 2012 1:15 pm
    A hand out, never in my life have I even tried to get anything for free never needed to. But there are people who could not afford the one cent tax you might think its nothing but it can add up. I don't want every one else to pay for it just the people who want it I think our library is fine, Obviously you don't so You fork up the money..We don't need any more taxes we have our one cent that has been on there for years. You probably have not been here that long. The vote is over.. The library is not going to be built by adding one cent to our taxes. So move on get over it work on a way without tax payers paying for it. and
    You are basically saying the 50 percent of people that voted against this are looser's that want a free ride. Seriously you need a reality check. I could care less how it gets built But I was not going to agree on adding one cent to are already 5 cent They would have found a way to keep it there!!!SIgh
  10. Bell
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    Bell - November 07, 2012 12:44 pm
    nls I happen to know quite a bit about Casper and lived here for many many years. Sounds to me like you are just like one of those people always looking for a handout. Lets have the rich fund it so they can put there name on it and we can eventually change the name of Casper to the individual that pays for everything. Would that please you? I am not rich by any means and live on a budget just like the majority of the population but I work hard for my money and I have never received a handout NEVER! Let me correct my statement ...not all of the people in Casper disgust me regarding this vote just those who want everyone else to pay for everything so they can get a free ride. This is our town lets make it awesome! It woul have been one cent for two years. Everyone thinks it is such a conspiracy isn't it? *sigh*
  11. nls
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    nls - November 07, 2012 11:34 am
    Bell Casper residents disgust you. Please move Then I have lived here all my life.. And the one cents for god sake!!! will never go away as they said it would in two years..One cents on buying a 25,000 vehicle is 250.000 dollar more..for get it They will find another way to pay for this Library. you watch... They came up with the money to buy all our policemen cars to be able to drive home.. It will not get voted in I promise you that. They have the land it will be built by donations..As a matter of fact if you think its only one cent For Gods sake fork up your own money, And the court house we had was a very old and Beautiful building.. You obviously don't know much about casper so please do us a favor and go else where with your nasty disgusting rants.
  12. Casper_Why
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    Casper_Why - November 07, 2012 11:24 am
    Oops, it should have read: Even if his business fails he will have to pay the money back.
  13. Panhead
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    Panhead - November 07, 2012 11:09 am
    @daddydude1969 these projects require huge amounts of money and the people of Casper should have the right to vote on them as a special purpose tax as well. The civic center started out as a private venture. The convention center came out of a comprehensive study for Casper developement since Mr. Patterson was hired. And a Hockey team has been tried before. As for asking me why I'm so personal I have lived in Casper all my life and seen more moneys squandered by the city council than I care to remember. But with that said I will agree with you, we have some new blood let's see how they do. I can tell you don't have a lot of respect for Mr. Sweeney and I feel that he should go after private funds for his construction. Talk about greedy merchants and contractors better keep an eye on Hedquist.
  14. Casper_Why
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    Casper_Why - November 07, 2012 11:02 am
    Well, now that the conflict between the new library location and the downtown plan is no longer an issue, the city manager and council can go ahead and approve the downtown plan and convention center. I bet Patterson is really happy over the library being defeated. Personally I was in favor of a new library and not a convention center.
  15. Casper_Why
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    Casper_Why - November 07, 2012 10:59 am
    Sweeney is receiving 3.93 million dollars from a bond fund that he will be responsible for repaying. No one is giving him anything. Regardless of what you think of the man he is not receiving a handout. Even if his business fails he will
  16. Bell
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    Bell - November 07, 2012 9:23 am
    Let me start by saying that I have never been affiliated with the Natrona County Library . I am just a regular citizen speaking my peace. I am shocked at the unwillingness of our community to pull together and better our city. I am more than willing to pitch in for a new courthouse or a library to make our town beautiful and classy. It is only a 1 cent sales tax for Gods sake. It isn't that much. What a stingy group of folk we live with. Lets just let our town look like trash over years with never improving any facilities. Casper residents disgust me!! I say lets re vote on the 1 cent tax!
  17. daddydude1969
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    daddydude1969 - November 07, 2012 8:30 am
    Panhead, why so personal and so wrong? The civic center has been living and dying for 10+ years, long before John started working here. The convention center has been kicked around for years as well. The City Council makes those decisions, and the last word to city staff was to make these things happen. If Casper wants to compete for continued convention business, we need a facility. But you support giving Sweeney and the Parkway Government funds? His business has failed, yet his hand is out for government funding to keep his old, smelly, dirty, poor quality, worn out motel in business. That is not a very Wyoming Republican approach. Casper needs to stop supporting greedy merchants and contractors and begin to work for citizens. Stop the Parkway, build a professional Convention Center, and bring more dollars to our community. Give John and the City Council a chance to work.
  18. Report Abuse
    - November 07, 2012 7:53 am
    But.....Obama was elected to the whitehouse....wait till you see your taxes this time next year.
  19. Panhead
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    Panhead - November 07, 2012 7:50 am
    This we had a say on, now what are we going to do about a convention center, civic autitorium and a hockey team that we can't vote on. John Patterson needs to go, I certainly hope that the new people on the council stand up to his crap and send him packing.
  20. it's me
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    it's me - November 07, 2012 5:55 am
    the way this story is writen it sounds like you are trying to change the vote by whinning we do not need a new library we do not need alot of things the good ole boys are trying to shove at us this was only a good start
  21. mbudenske
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    mbudenske - November 07, 2012 3:23 am
    Yet again the voters speak. NO NEW TAXES!
  22. mistydew
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    mistydew - November 07, 2012 12:50 am
    Thank you voters for voting today.
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