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The Rundown – City seeking architectural services for new library

Post Date:07/24/2019 11:05 AM

The Rundown is prepared by the City of Newton Public Information Office to summarize the City Commission meeting and does not represent official Commission minutes.

7 p.m. July 23, 2019, Newton City Commission meeting

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the City Commission approved a Request for Proposals for architectural services for a new Newton Public Library, based on recommendations of the Library Visioning Task Force.

Task force chair Angela Becker presented just a few of the reasons a new library is needed to meet the needs of today’s community:

  • More meeting room space is needed to conduct large adult/youth presentations and for small groups like study groups, book clubs, entrepreneurs, tutors, social services reps, etc.
  • More tables and soft seating with natural light are needed to create more of an inviting atmosphere where people can relax, read, listen to music, etc.
  • More powered tables and counters are needed for advanced technology. Monitored computer labs set up for public computers and training classes are needed, as well as innovative business space.
  • Teens and young adults need space separated from the flow for gaming, computer use, video exploration.
  • The Make Harvey group has been active in the library, but they are limited on what they can do because of space, technology, sound, etc. Additional maker space for all kinds of collaborative efforts is in high demand.
  • Flexible and accessible space for all ages and those with physical disabilities is needed.
  • More parking and a main entry convenient for patron drop-off and a drive-through location for services is requested from an overwhelming number of patrons.
  • A modern, inviting library could be a great draw for young families and economic development prospects looking for community amenities that will attract workers.

The consultant’s work will include four phase functions:

  1. Site Selection – To review the growth, people, and needs of the city and provide direction regarding the best site location.
  2. Feasibility Review & Concept Development – To review all the past work (building assessments, studies, concepts, revisioning, community needs & desires) and provide expert space design.
  3. Public Campaign – To provide expert assistance in developing public education materials regarding the need for a new building and a public funding campaign.
  4. Construction Drawings/Design & Bidding – To provide architectural drawings necessary to construct the facility envisioned by the community.

The City will pay for Phase 1 and Phase 4 of the consultant’s work with funds from the City’s Library Capital Reserve Account. The Library will pay for Phases 2 and 3.

A public funding campaign to help offset costs of the project will begin in 2021-2022. The Library Board has committed to provide $65,000 per year beginning in January 2023 toward the debt service payments for the construction project.

2020 budget

The City Commission also approved the 2020 budget for publication, which includes an increase of 3.08 mills in the tax rate. That equates to about $35 per year on a $100,000 home. The 2020 budget will require at least 5.75 mills just to cover the needs of the Bond & Interest Fund, so an increase of just 3 mills will require more than $300,000 in cuts to the General Fund budget.

The official budget hearing will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13. At that time the Commission may lower the budget amount but cannot raise it beyond what was published.

T-21 ordinance

The Commission tabled until Aug. 13 an ordinance raising the minimum age to 21 to purchase and possess tobacco products, to give the matter more thought and to work with local health care partners to include more evidence-based language. The ordinance had been requested earlier this month by student members of STAND, a youth leadership initiative of Mirror Inc. and the Harvey County D-FY (Drug Free Youth) coalition.

Community recognition

The Commission recognized Newton Performing Arts Center’s competition team dancers, who recently competed and placed at Nationals.

Commissioners also honored Newtonian Ellen Yocum for being inducted into the Business & Professional Women Kansas Hall of Fame.

In other action, the City Commission:

  1. Set the commencement date of newly elected City Commissioners’ term of office as the second Tuesday in December.
  2. Approved a $75 annual fee for pet shop permits.
  3. Finalized the annexation of City-owned property at Newton City/County Airport.
  4. Received the second quarter financial report.

For more information, please contact Director of Communications Erin McDaniel at 284-6055 or