LWV League of Women Voters of California
Smart Voter
San Mateo County, CA June 5, 2001 Election
Measure C
Millbrae Community Library
City of Millbrae

Bond Measure - 2/3 Approval Required

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Fiscal Impact | Yes/No Meaning | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

To qualify for State or other library matching funds, provide space for more books, periodicals, reference materials, update wiring for computers/technology, expand children's study/reading areas, increase computer terminals, ensure earthquake safety, provide adequate seating and lighting, shall the City issue $10.6 million of bonds at tax-exempt interest rates to build a new Millbrae Community Library and related improvements, subject to guaranteed annual audits, a citizen's oversight committee, and no money for administrators' salaries?

Fiscal Impact from James R. Erickson, City Administrator:


An election will be held in the City of Millbrae (the "City") of San Mateo County on June 5, 2001, for the purpose of authorizing the sale of $10,600,000 in general obligation bonds. The bonds would be payable from tax levies made upon the taxable property in the City.

In compliance with Elections Code Sections 9400-9404, the following information is submitted:

1. The best estimate of the tax rate which would be required to be levied to fund the bond issue during the first fiscal year after the first sale of bonds, based on estimated assessed valuations available at the time of filing this statement, is $0.027 per 100 dollars assessed valuation for the year 2001-02.

2. The best estimate of the tax rate which would be required to be levied to fund the bond issue during the first fiscal year after the last sale of the bonds and an estimate of the year in which the rate will apply, based on estimated assessed valuations available at the time of filing this statement, is $0.027 per 100 dollars assessed valuation for the year 2001-02.

3. The best estimate of the highest tax rate which would be required to be levied to fund the bond issue and an estimate of the year in which that rate will apply, based on estimated assessed valuations available at the time of filing of this statement, is $0.027 per 100 dollars assessed valuation for the year 2002-03.

These estimates would result in an average annual tax over the life of the bonds of $22.01 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

These tax rates and the years in which they apply are based on assumptions with respect to assessed valuation growth, the timing of the bond sale, the amount of bonds sold at any one time, the interest rate on the bonds, and other such factors. Although the City has made every effort to reasonably account for the factors which may affect the tax rates and the years in which they apply, these estimates are not binding on the City. The actual tax rates and the years in which they apply may vary from those presently estimated. The tax rates and the years in which they apply are estimates based on the best information available as of the date hereof.

Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote of this measure means:
A two-thirds "yes" vote will allow the City of Millbrae to sell $10,600,000 in general obligation bonds to finance a new community library and to levy additional property tax to pay off the bonds.

A NO vote of this measure means:
A "no" vote on this measure means that the bonds to finance a new library will not be sold and additional property tax will not be levied.

Impartial Analysis from Joan L. Cassman, City Attorney
The California Constitution authorizes a city to issue general obligation bonds if approved by a 2/3 affirmative vote of those persons actually voting on the bond measure. The city then pays off the general obligation bonds with revenues obtained from a property tax levied against all parcels of real property, including residential, commercial and industrial, within the city.

The City of Millbrae proposes to issue $10.6 million of general obligation bonds to finance the construction of a new Millbrae Library and related improvements. According to the tax rate statement provided by the City's Financial Advisor, the approximate cost for a homeowner is $22.01 for every $100,000 of assessed value with possible reductions over the period that the bonds are being repaid if the total assessed value of property within the city increases at an annual rate of 4.5% or more. The current debt level of the City of Millbrae is approximately .008% of total assessed value, which is well within the maximum 15% authorized by the California Constitution.

General obligation bonds are typically the most cost effective bonds a city can issue. The interest rate for the bonds cannot exceed the legal limit of 12%; in the present market, the interest rate for 30 year bonds would slightly exceed 5%. The City has determined that other financing alternatives to support this library project are either unavailable because there is no source of money for debt repayment or more costly in terms of both interest rates and annual administrative costs.

The bond proceeds will finance the demolition of the current 39-year-old library and the construction at the same location of a new Millbrae Library. A December 1999 Needs Assessment and Master Plan Study for the Millbrae Library conducted by the City and the San Mateo County Library concluded that nearly $1.5 million is needed in repairs and equipment replacements to bring the property into proper functionality and compliance with applicable code requirements, including access for persons with disabilities. An April 1999 planning study sponsored by the City of Millbrae and the Friends of the Millbrae Library analyzed the facility and space needs to accommodate anticipated public library service requirements in the community through the year 2020, including technology, seating capacity, collection size, and parking. Based on the study's conclusions regarding improvements in these areas, the size of the new library is proposed to increase from the current 11,240 square feet to 27,614 square feet.

Another recent study for the new library estimates that the total cost of the proposed project is $11.821 Million. Of this amount, $10.468 million of the project cost is eligible for and will be paid from bond proceeds and $1.353 million of improvements, furnishings, equipment and related costs will be covered by various other sources, including the County Library Joint Powers Authority and such other private and public sources that may be identified and secured for this purpose.

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Arguments For Measure C Arguments Against Measure C
This measure will provide Millbrae residents funding to build a much needed new library. Our library, built in 1961, no longer meets today's safety, seismic or disabled access requirements. Engineers advise us it is more cost effective to build a new building than to bring the current building up to today's much more demanding codes. We cannot accommodate new technology, and space for books and seating is severely limited. Some 800 people use the Millbrae library daily; more than 220,000 items are circulated annually. By investing in the new library, we are also investing in the future of our residents and the needs of our community. Time has run out. The only remedy for the numerous and serious problems we now face with our library is to replace it with a modern larger new facility.

The facts are clear. A "Yes" vote means--

  • More space for books, children's books, periodicals, audiovisual and reference materials
  • Expanded reading, program, and study areas for children
  • A group homework and tutoring center
  • Updated wiring for computers, Internet, and new technology
  • Double the seating
  • Quiet reading areas for all users
  • Increased capacity for computer terminals
  • Modern seismic, health, disabled access, and safety requirements are met
  • Accommodating seniors' needs for such services as large print materials and reading devices
  • Meeting the needs of all segments of our community: children, teens, adults, and seniors

A "Yes" vote enables Millbrae to apply for State library bond funds. The State will decide which projects receive funding. We can only compete for these funds with a "Yes" vote from you on this measure.

Most homeowners will need to pay less than $4 per month for all of these benefits. ($22.01 per $ 100,000 assessed value,not current market value)

The need is there, the time is now, the price is right!

/s/ Denis E. Richardson
Mayor, City of Millbrae
/s/ Marc Hershman
Vice Mayor, City of Millbrae
/s/ Art Lepore
School Board Member & Former Millbrae Mayor
/s/ Kay Runkle
Former President A.A.R.P.
/s/ Dr. Patricia Chang
Optometrist & Parent

Rebuttal to Arguments For
The Library - a historical perspective: In 1961 any city with pretensions had a library, and Millbrae built one appropriate to the needs of the day. Subsequent developments in book retailing, television, and the internet have rendered the old fashioned library somewhat obsolescent. Its importance to our society has diminished since 1961, and it makes no sense to consider expansion or a new building today.

A niche market: The library's stature is disproportionately inflated by city hall, when one considers what a tiny segment of society 800 daily users represent - in a city of 21,000 people. Is it fair to tax all residents to construct a new building for such a small group?

$2,300 per household! The total cost of this bond, with interest, would be roughly $19 million, to be paid somehow by 8200 local households. On average, that's $2,300 in new taxes. Many residents need that money to pay their utility bills or health insurance.

Sanity Check: Proponents cheer a circulation figure of 220,000 items annually. Spending $19 million on a new home for those items works out to $85 per item circulated. Let's save that $85 and keep them in the home they have already.

The alternative? Voting 'No' will not harm the library. A 'No' vote will cause the library to "stay the course" and continue to operate as a well-funded "small town library" focused on its traditional mission.

/s/ Jack Hickey
Chair, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

This is NOT a referendum on the value of public libraries. We all want our public services to be adequately funded and well-run. That's why we ALREADY pay property taxes. Last year, Millbrae taxpayers (including renters) contributed $19 million in property taxes.

Property tax growth has outstripped inflation in each of the last 8 years - up 8% in 1999 and 6%in 2000 (http://www.care.co.sanmateo.ca.us/assessor/). Sales tax revenue is also posting record highs (http://www.boe.ca.gov/tsalescont.htm).

This IS a vote on working within a budget. Should the city borrow money to spend more than we already give them in fees, property taxes, sales taxes, donations, etc? We say 'No'.

This IS a vote on bonded indebtedness - passing costs to another generation of taxpayers, many of whom are too young to vote or haven't been born yet. Should we stick our kids with the bill? We say 'No'.

This IS a vote on decades of future interest payments, totaling approximately $8 million. No, thanks.

This IS a vote on financial shell games. When politicians want to initiate pet projects, they try to use existing revenue, and cry to the voters that they need a bond to pay for traditional budget items like libraries. Do they think we are so easily fooled? We say 'No'.

/s/ John J. Hickey
Chair - Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
We agree this is not about the value of public libraries, but how to provide a highly valued and much needed library. A Millbrae Library Committee of parents, library users, seniors and civic leaders has worked together more than three years to develop a fiscally responsible plan for a new Millbrae Library.

The majority of taxes pays public safety employees such as police and firefighters. Proposition 13 limited taxes. Voters have received substantial savings. Only 12% of our property taxes actually come back to the city. A program called "ERAF" shifts local property tax to the state. Our city and county have lost 20% of property tax revenue for 8 years, totaling $14 Million from county libraries alone.

Taxpayers will benefit from improved property values with a larger modern library. Our families and children will benefit from a library for the 21st century. Millbrae residents recognize our obligation to provide a high quality library for our children.

It is a common and necessary practice to finance major expenditures. Most of us have borrowed to buy our own homes. A bond allows our community to build facilities needed now for which there is currently no funding available. Total cost of interest and principal to the average homeowner will be less than $4 per month.

The author of the Argument Against lives in Redwood City and enjoys an updated, modern library. Millbrae residents deserve the same.

The need is there, the time is now, the price is right! Vote "Yes" on Measure C.

/s/ Linda T. Larson
City Councilwoman, City of Millbrae
/s/ Nadia Holober
City Councilwoman, City of Millbrae
/s/ Daniel R Quigg
City Councilman, City of Millbrae
/s/ Don Dambrosio
Former Director of Millbrae Parks & Recreation Department
/s/ Sherrie L. Epstein
Educational Consultant

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Created: August 7, 2001 02:34
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