Missoula taxpayers have proven to be very generous over the past few years, with a $40 million Parks and Trails bond, $158 million combined school bond, and now a proposed $30 million bond to build a new public library.

The current library was built in 1974, long before computers revolutionized our world, and the library needs to grow and change with the times. According to the library's website, it serves over 700,000 people a year, and the infrastructure, electrical, plumbing and HVAC are constantly in need of repair.

So, the Friends of the Library have crafted a $30 million bond that will appear on the ballot in November. County Commissioner Jean Curtiss said the organizers have done the hard work of preparing the initiative to appear on the ballot.

"What this is doing is asking the voters to consider passing a general obligation bond for up to $30 million dollars to build a new library," she said. "The new library, if the voters pass the bond, will include a land swap, so that the new library would be built directly east of where it is right now, and in the end, the person that currently owns that land would own the land where the present library sits."

Curtiss explains the procedure should  the bond be passed by Missoula voters.

"The first thing that would happen if the voters pass it would be a small portion of the bonds would be sold so that the final design and all those details they would have to have to actually build it would happen," she said. "I would guess that they might break ground next fall, and it's going to take a long time to build a building this big."

The library's website says a $5 million capital campaign is underway, and because the new library is not on the same property, the present library will be able to provide continuous service. The new library will have 120,000 square feet of space on five levels, over twice the current parking, triple capacity for computer access and faster internet.

The bond would cost the average homeowner in Missoula approximately $2.34 a month over 20 years.



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