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City bonds include $10.5 million for Sunset Library

By: Doug Snover

March 31, 2007

Chandler’s $451 million bond package going to voters on May 15 includes $10.5 million to buy and refurbish the city’s popular Sunset Library in the Kyrene Corridor.

Many residents may not know it, but the city has leased the 22,000-square-foot library since it opened in early 2000. The building is owned by Paragon Building Development, a California company that developed the 125,000-square-foot retail center on Ray Road, just east of Rural Road.

Chandler expects to pay almost a half-million dollars on that lease in the 2007-08 fiscal year, according to Brenda Brown, Chandler’s library manager.

“We’re paying about $40,000 a month. In the next budget year, we’ll be paying $474,713,” she said.

That made financial sense almost a decade ago when the city agreed to lease the building from Paragon Building Development, Brown said. But city officials had the foresight to write into the lease an option to buy the building for fair market value after 10 years, she noted.

Chandler hasn’t had the building officially appraised, but city financial planners have asked Chandler voters to approve $9.5 million in municipal general obligation bonds to purchase the building and another $1 million to install a new roof, new heating and cooling systems and other improvements.

It’s the biggest part of the proposed $451 million bond package directly tied to west Chandler.

“The (Sunset Library) lease was written in such a way that we have the option to purchase the facility at market value. That’s coming up in fiscal year 2009-2010,” Brown said.

“The library is a cultural service for our citizens in west Chandler,” she noted.

“More than 1,100 people visit that library every day. During the last fiscal year, citizens checked out 525,000 items—that includes books, DVDs, audio books, and other materials.”

Sunset Library is open Monday through Saturday, but library officials are seeking funding in 2007-08 to add Sunday hours, according to Brown.

The staff of 16 is kept busy, she said.

Sunset Library has only one-third of the space of the city’s downtown library but does two-thirds of the business, according to Brown.

Besides the usual collection of books and recorded materials, Sunset Library offers 66 public-access computers, four study rooms, a 75-seat meeting room and plenty of parking because it is located in a retail center, she said.

Purchasing the building—Chandler already owns the furnishings—gives the city options for Sunset Library’s future, Brown said.

“It’s a great little library. This gives us the potential for expansion.”

Chandler last asked its voters for bond authorization in 2004.

The $415 million bond proposal is heavy on street and highway projects (202.3 million) and water and sewer projects ($107.8 million) and includes a hefty amount for parks and recreation ($81.3 million) In total, there are ten questions on the bond ballot for a total of $451,500,000.

The bonds, if approved by voters, are expected to be sold over the next three years and repaid over approximately 15 years. City officials say the bond package will not increase the city’s property tax rate.

Former Chandler Management Services Director Pat Walker, in a Jan.10 memo to the City Council, wrote that, “the proposed bond election will not increase the $.87 (secondary) property tax rate.”

While Sunset Library is the largest single project for the Kyrene Corridor, Chandler officials note that much of the bond money will be spent on public facilities enjoyed by all residents. That includes the Chandler Center for the Arts ($4.1 million), the downtown Senior Center ($1.4 million), the Museum ($4.3 million) and the Boys & Girls Club ($8.5 million).

The proposed $1.1 million for aquatic facilities includes $46,500 for improvements to the West Chandler Pool, and the streets program includes $1 million for improvements to the Ray Road-McClintock Drive intersection.

Every Chandler household with a registered voter will receive an “Information Pamphlet and Sample Ballot” in the mail in early April. Early voting starts April 12. The last date to register to vote in the Special Bond Election is April 16.


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