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Published January 31, 2011, 10:04 PM

GF City Council Votes to Put Sales Tax Increase for New Library On Public Ballot

A proposed new Grand Forks Public Library has become a hot issue. In a heated discussion last night Monday night, city council members debated whether the public should vote on a new library building.

A proposed new Grand Forks Public Library has become a hot issue.

In a heated discussion last night Monday night, city council members debated whether the public should vote on a new library building.

They were divided over a possible sales tax hike to pay for it, as well as the library board's recommendation to build a new library on the existing site.

After an over four-hour-long meeting the council, in a five to two vote, decided on a special election in May.

It would let people decide if they support a one percent sales tax increase to pay for a new library.

The ballot would cap this at two and a half years, or $20.8 million dollars, whichever comes first.

Some council members say they don't even want a new library built, especially if it raises taxes.

They point out decreasing usage of libraries because of the internet.

Council members Terry Bjerke and Hal Gershman didn't see eye-to-eye on the sales tax or the library board's decision-making process.

"A vote for a sales tax increase is a vote for a property tax increase, because you are not going to operate a brand new library at the same cost they're operating now. So, I like the Wizard of Oz picture, so, we're out of Oz and we're into Terry Bjerke's land, alright. We know it's going to cost more," Bjerke said.

"They're not behind the blue curtain. They supplied us with all the information you have there. I would hope you aren't trying to insinuate they were trying to be behind the curtain on that. That's all, so go ahead," President Hal Gershman said.

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