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Published February 03, 2011, 10:35 PM

GF City Council Member Explains 'No' Vote On Proposed New Library

On January 31 the Grand Forks City Council voted to put a one-cent sales tax for a new public library to a public vote in May.

On January 31 the Grand Forks City Council voted to put a one-cent sales tax for a new public library to a public vote in May.

Five council members said "yes" to the public vote, but two said no. Now one of the council members wants to explain why.

"A vote for a sales tax increase is a vote for a property tax increase, We're out of oz and we're into Terry Bjerke's land, alright," said Grand Forks City Councilman Terry Bjerke at the meeting.

A proposed one-cent sales tax was Bjerke's reason for voting no on moving forward with the proposed new library. The other "no" vote was for a different reason.

"Tax is an important issue, but it's not THE issue that's held me back on voting for the library," City Councilman Tyrone Grandstrand said.

The Grand Forks Public Library Board recommended the new library be built on the existing site, going against overwhelming public support to build on the Leevers site, because of deficiencies of the Leevers property.

Grandstrand said the Library Board needs to step back for more public input.

"Let's look into other possible sites or let's look at three other sites," he said.

Grandstrand said the board should not just move on to a different site without another feedback campaign similar to the 'Speak Up For Your Library Campaign'.

"People have ideas on where to put it. Let's open it up to get feedback on a new location and lets run through the process with the same ranking," said Grandstrand.

Grand Forks Public Library Board President, Susan Mickelson said they have already done that.

Based on the feedback wanting a library not too far south or too far north, the existing site is still within public demand.

"Based on what we learned in November, we feel we learned enough about centralizing the location. That is an issue that will be remedied by using the location," said Mickelson.

Beyond that, Mickelson said starting over and looking for input on new sites like they did in November would be too costly.

"We received money from the knight foundation to conduct the community conversation. There's no way we would've been able to do something that widespread with the limited budget we have," said Mickelson.

Right now the only decision that has been made is putting the one cent sales tax increase on a ballot so the people can decide. Mickelson wants the process to keep moving forward.

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