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Library bonds confirmed for November vote
A $76-million library bond measure will appear on the November ballots of Palo Alto voters, the City Council confirmed Monday night.
The council had decided July 7 the measure would include money to construct a new Mitchell Park Library and Community Center, expand and renovate Main Library and restore the Downtown Library.
With the major decisions behind them, council members used Monday's discussion as an opportunity to express their support and enthusiasm for the projects.
"I think it's a perfect package that we can all be proud to take to the voters," Councilwoman Yoriko Kishimoto said. This proposal is much better than the 2002 measure, which gained only 61 percent support, Kishimoto said.
Recent polling shows 63 to 66 percent of likely Palo Alto voters support the current measure. A group known as Better Libraries for Palo Alto is working to push that support above the required two-thirds level.
"We're ready for this. We're ready to go out and help ask the community for libraries that we believe they want," Councilman John Barton said.
Palo Alto's current library facilities are an embarrassment, Councilman Jack Morton said.
Mayor Larry Klein said the city hasn't constructed a new building, excluding restrooms at Greer Park, since 1972.
He assigned himself, Vice Mayor Peter Drekmeier, Morton and Councilman Yiaway Yeh to draft a ballot statement.
Interim Deputy City Manager Kelly Morariu said the city mailed out 20,500 informational fliers on the libraries, which included a card asking recipients to rank their priorities for the city's five-branch library system: Main, Mitchell, Downtown, College Terrace (now being upgraded and refurbished) and the already restored and expanded Children's Library.
Of the 875 cards returned, Morariu said 46 percent of respondents ranked expanding the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center as one of their top three priorities. Another 46 percent rated expanding the collection of books and materials as a top priority. Renovating Main Library was a main concern for 37 percent, she said.
If supported by two-thirds of voters, Palo Alto property owners would have to pay about $27 per $100,000 of assessed value, or between $120 and $160 a year for most homeowners, according to staff estimates.