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The original item was published from 8/17/2020 2:14:00 PM to 9/16/2020 8:08:08 AM.

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Posted on: July 16, 2020

[ARCHIVED] MEETINGS: Residents invited to "Discovery" meetings in August to talk Library renovations

QR Code for Library survey

FBTX ~ Designed to answer questions and offer an opportunity for input on possible improvements to the Manske Library, the final two in-person Discovery Meetings will be held August 20 and 26, while a survey to gauge public input is also active.

   Set for Farmers Branch City Hall, members of City staff and the Library Board will be available for the final two Discovery Meetings on:

  • Thursday, August 20, 6 to 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, August 26, 6 to 7 p.m.

   COVID social distancing protocols will apply and face coverings are required.

   In addition, a community-wide survey has been designed to further the discussion and solicit public input on renovation plans. Find the survey online or by using the attached QR code.Library interior rendering

   Conceptual renderings of what a renovated Manske Library could look like are available now and on display in the lobby at City Hall. While these represent an idea in time about how renovation could look, community input will drive any final design decisions.

   The Council voted in July to enter into a 45-day window of discussion on a renovation plan for the building, prior to consideration of certificates of obligation in mid-September. The funding mechanism would not include a property tax rate increase. Council would still need to vote to approve such a move before any debt is issued. A capital campaign to supplement debt funding is also in the works.

   With increased new construction and commercial property value growth, historically low interest rates and competitive construction costs, the City has a unique opportunity to finance library renovation debt without increasing the property tax rate.

   In 2019, Farmers Branch voters declined to fund construction of a new Library building, so the discussion now turns to renovation of the existing facility.

   Assistant City Manager Ben Williamson explained the existing Library building, though structurally sound, has not been updated to current ADA requirements, is energy inefficient and is not meeting the needs of new residents and young adults as evidenced by surveys and resident engagement activities.

“Why this discussion and why right now?” Mr. Williamson said. “As our oldest, public-facing building, the Library has arrived at a point in time where major maintenance, ADA compliance and safety improvements are needed.”Library in Lobby


   Debt financing is being considered because previous funding strategies of "pay as you go" are not as feasible with new state limitations on property tax revenue growth that severely restrict cities’ ability to "save" money to finance such projects.

   City officials said they are cognizant of the increase in property values, despite last year’s lowering of the City’s portion of homeowners’ property tax rates. In fact, City property taxes only amount to less than 25 percent of a resident’s overall property tax bill. Additionally, earlier this year, the City Council unanimously increased the homestead exemption from $65,000 to $80,000 - an amount equal to 4-cents on the property tax rate. The average property tax bill for a resident over the age of 65 will decrease by nearly $90, beginning October 1.
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