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Monday, February 10, 2014

Open letter to Birmingham City Commissioners in regards to the proposed May Library vote.

Dear City Commissioners:
As you gather on Monday to represent the residents of Birmingham, our city is presented with a tremendous opportunity to enhance one of its historic anchor
institutions in the core of our downtown and bring it into the future. While there are certainly aspects of the library proposal that will require more explanation and discussion with the public, we have every reason to be confident that the library project is ready for the May ballot.

With direction from the City Commission the development of the library project proposal was kicked off several years ago. During this time there have been 3 Long Range Planning meetings, dozens of reviews, several experts and consultants involved, at least a dozen editorials in multiple media outlets, many public comments made at televised meetings and a survey of every resident in town. We don’t recall many other items that are just potentially going for a vote receiving this much attention. It stands to reason, following the timeline as set forth months ago, there will be much more discussion and communication in advance of the May 6th election. Simply stated, the argument of delaying this proposal until a date in the future cannot be made under the guise of “lack of notice.”

Furthermore, unless the commission plans on spending more tax dollars to gather more information that somehow wasn't discovered in the last 3 years, there is no reason to stall the vote for “lack of information.”

And if costs are the driving force behind delaying the public’s opportunity to a vote, then May 6 is virtually a mandate. It is fairly clear that a 6-month election delay and a 12-month construction delay, in an improving economy, will cost each of us money unless we accept less library to pay for the additional interest and inflation costs.

The cost of delaying will far outweigh the approximately $1 per registered voter cost of a May election.

We believe the commission-directed process we have been on for nearly 3 years has produced a well-vetted proposal for the voters. We think the bigger question is “why wait?”  Why waste tax dollars on a delay? Yes, we pay higher taxes than some of our bedroom community friends, not great, but it’s what we’ve signed up for by living in Birmingham. What’s worse? Worse is paying higher taxes and not having competitive facilities and services. A lot has changed in the third of a century since the last meaningful work on the library; let’s not wait anymore.

Stuart Jeffares
Ashley Aidenbaum
Jay Schell
Shelia Brice
Frank Pisano
Melissa Mark
Janelle Boyce
Jim Suhay
Kathi Cutler
Lisa Melville
Andrew Harris
Corey Jacoby
Toni Thwaites
Jeffrey Van Dorn
David Underdown
John Polakowski

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