A specific-purpose sales tax to fund a new library is one step closer to appearing on the November election ballot.
The Natrona County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to place the proposal for the tax on the November ballot. Besides county commissioner approval, the measure also must pass the governing bodies of at least four of the six municipalities in Natrona County.
The commissioners also passed a resolution to support a new Natrona County Public Library.
“We are turning away children at our summer reading programs due to fire marshal limitations,” Bill Nelson told the commissioners during a work session before the regular meeting Tuesday. The Natrona County Public Library director estimated about 200 children will have been turned away by the end of the summer. Nelson added another symptom of overcrowding: about 70,000 items that are hard to reach because they are either too high or too low.
Voters will decide if they want a $29.7 million one-percent specific purpose sales tax for the proposed 83,000 square-foot library in Casper’s Old Yellowstone District. The tax is expected to reach its goal and end in about 18 months, based on current revenue generation rate, according to Nelson.
The community voted down a proposal for a new library in the 2008 election. But much has happened since then, Nelson said. The library foundation has purchased property with private funds. The size of the proposed facility also has been scaled down, Nelson said.
Dick Sadler, a former state legislator and vocal opponent of the new proposal, spoke out against the library because of its anticipated cost during the work session. He cited an anonymous construction expert who provided numbers indicating the library proposal is comparatively more expensive per square foot than other structures of its ilk.
According to library supporters at the meeting, Sadler had not attended any of the citizen task force meetings concerning the new library. Library officials invited him to speak with them about his concerns at the next Natrona County Library trustees meeting. The library board meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 5 p.m. in the board room of the main library, according to its website.