LIBRARY NEWS RELEASE - Library Board's Rebuttal to Mayor Robideaux's Accusations
As supporters and trustees of the Lafayette Public Library System, we adamantly dispute and challenge Mayor Robideaux’s unfounded accusations from Tuesday night’s Council meeting that the library has mislead taxpayers.
On November 5, 2002, taxpayers approved two separate measures on the same ballot [https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/Graphical#!#TabFull]:
Authorization to issue up to $40 million in bonds to fund new library construction across the parish; and
a 2-mill property tax for “constructing, improving, maintaining, and operating” public libraries.
Although up to $40 million in bonds were authorized by the voters, LCG issued only $21.9 million in bonds for library construction. This was a public process and public bid, done in accordance with the law.
The 2-mill property tax was collected beginning with the 2003-04 budget year. By 2010, the funds collected from that millage accumulated to an amount that the library board decided to approve—in a public meeting—that it would forego issuing any more additional bonds and establish a ‘Pay-as-You-Go’ (PAYG) construction plan for the library projects that had not been funded by the bond issuance. (http://lafayettepubliclibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Library-Board-Minutes-6.8.10.pdf) Doing so saved taxpayers more than $10 million in interest payments. By only issuing one-half of the authorized bonds and adopting the PAYG approach, the library board was demonstrating conservative planning and fiscal responsibility.
Improvements like the downtown Main Library renovations and regional branches such as North Regional (Carencro), South Regional, East Regional (Broussard/Youngsville), and West Regional (Scott) have been or will be paid for by a mix of PAYG funds and bonds. Again, that financing plan of bonds and PAYG will save taxpayers millions of dollars in bond interest. Those results appear clearly in the LCG public record.
All of these processes and decisions have happened in public and are supported by the public record. We have been and continue to be accountable to the taxpayers of this parish. It is a responsibility we take seriously.
The approach taken by Mayor Robideaux to garner support for his proposal to raid the library’s reserve funds is misleading, inappropriate, and ultimately damaging to the public’s trust in government. Moreover, it impugns the integrity of past and current library administrators, trustees and supporters. This is not a productive way to handle the public’s business and it does not make for reasonable discourse.
If Lafayette is to move forward, we must do so together. There may be a scenario in the future in which the library and its supporters agree that some funds earmarked for library improvements may be better redirected to other priorities. However, Mayor Robideaux has not articulated with any detail a justification for such action at this date. He has instead devoted his efforts to stirring confusion and levying unsupported accusations, all without communicating with the library board or administration, who could have clarified these issues for him.
In this release, the library board is presenting these facts to the public. They are from the public record. We will continue to provide additional details as a board and/or through our finance committee as appropriate.
Libraries are places where we meet to exchange ideas, learn and grow. We welcome a public discussion about this issue. But we urge everyone to stick to facts. We hope that Mayor Robideaux will revisit those facts and correct the public record. Based on correct facts, the Council can decide its best course of action.
Nora Stelly, President
Andrew Duhon, Vice President
Lafayette Public Library Board of Control