A plan to raise the city sales tax to pay for expansion of the Norfolk Public Library appears headed for a spot on the November ballot.
Voters would be asked if they want to add a half-cent to the local levy of 1.5 cents.
Results of a survey of likely voters, funded by the Norfolk Library Foundation, were presented Monday to the City Council by Chris Peterson of CP Strategies of Lincoln.
A total of 511 people responded to the phone survey last month, and over three-quarters had heard about the library plans.
Respondents were asked if the library should be renovated and expanded. A total of 365 answered yes, and 65 answered no.
Then, if the election were held today, 303 said they would probably or definitely vote for the sales tax, while 175 said they would probably or definitely not, according to the survey.
When asked the same question about supporting the tax, and given background information about the library’s deficiencies, positive responses rose to 329 and negative responses dropped to 155.
“This bodes well for community support,’’ Peterson said.
The survey further delved into what patrons believe are the biggest shortcomings of the library. Respondents cited a lack of parking spaces, outdated computer and technology offerings and a shortage of space for children and teens.
Peterson said the survey indicates a “strong majority’’ of all demographic groups favors the sales tax for improvements.
But before the council can formally act to place a measure on the ballot, which may be done at the meeting in two weeks, some preliminaries are in order.
The city has to reach out to Madison County to sign an interlocal agreement since state law requires an agreement with another political subdivision for a tax increase beyond 1.5 cents, plus voter approval.
The city’s finance director has reported to a council subcommittee that the extra tax would raise enough to pay for a larger expansion project in 36 months and without the need to issue bonds. The tax would come off after the project is paid for.
A study by Alley Poyner Macchieto Inc. of Omaha has considered two options.
The more expensive, at $7.4 million, accounts for future growth over 20 years and adds 16,000 square feet of space. The less expensive, at $6.5 million, would add 13,000 square feet and account for growth over the next decade.
Additions are envisioned on the library’s north side and on the west side, where a new entrance and more parking are planned as well.
Built in 1977, the library has about 22,000 square feet, is being used by more patrons and has outgrown its space
Both choices call for more parking, drive-up access to the book drop, improvements to the children’s area and bigger areas for teens, library programs and community meeting rooms. It also means more space for library books, larger study room and quiet space and updated work areas for staff of the library and staff of city information services located in the library.
The council subcommittee, which met last month, directed staff to move forward with the sales tax proposal.
The City of Norfolk is applying for a grant to build the North Fork Riverfront Trail in the vicinity of Johnson Park.
Council members Monday passed a resolution to seek funds from the federal Recreational Trails Program through the Nebraska Department of Roads.
City officials want a $1.25 million grant. The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District and city would each provide $125,000 local matches to qualify.
A council subcommittee has outlined plans for three phases of the trail, depending on funding.
The first phase is a trail on each side of the railroad tracks between the North Fork River and First Street and on to Johnson Park. There’s a segment, too, along the river’s east bank between Elm Avenue and First Street.
The second phase is a trail on the park’s west side along First Street and a segment inside the park and along the park’s south side.
A third phase is from the park’s south edge, along the curve in the river, to East Braasch Avenue.