Sandoval County librarians stepped into government and negotiated what they need from the 2020 Library General Obligation Bonds.
General obligation bonds, or GO bonds, are debt instruments that, in this case, the county is using to raise funds for public projects in libraries that do not generate revenue.
The 2020 Library GO bond is for about $1.9 million, with $200,000 set aside for projects in Districts 1 and 5.
This year, libraries made a request for $2.4 million.
The commission formed a library bond committee made up of county librarians, County Manager Wayne Johnson, County Financial Advisor Rob Burpo and Chairman David Heil, District 4.
“This was not an easy process but it was, I think, a fruitful one,” Johnson said.
After cutting about 30 percent from each library’s request and then working through financial reports, the committee was able to reduce requests to $1.9 million so taxes do not increase, Burpo said.
At the Sandoval County Commission meeting Thursday night, commissioners unanimously approved placing the 2020 Library GO Bond on November’s ballot.
“I just want to make a point that this was a negotiation among librarians, not by this county commission. The librarians have brought what they have agreed on to the county commission to approve,” Heil said.
This bond would have a small premium and an interest rate of 0.75-0.85 percent over six years, Burpo said.
In the past, the bond was on a four-year bond cycle. This was changed in 2018 to a two-year bond cycle.
By making this change, the county will have an additional $600,000 to $700,000 to contribute to libraries, Burpo said.
“If things ended up following along, we will end up giving more money to the libraries and providing a really consistent revenue stream instead of the one-year gap situation that we had under the four-year bond,” Johnson said.
In 2018, the Library GO bond was for about $3.3 million for 17 public libraries in Sandoval County. Five libraries in District 1 and 5 moved $200,000 to Rio Rancho to meet their requests. This money is now allocated back to the same five libraries.
When Rio Rancho “dug in its heels” in 2018, Commissioner Kenneth Eichwald, District 5, agreed libraries in his district would give up part of their funding for Rio Rancho.
“We are going to give it up this time, but we are going to get it back in (2020),” he said at the time.
Rio Rancho will get about $450,000 from the 2020 library GO bond, according to county documents.
“This is supposed to be a shared amount of money and everyone should get their proper share,” Eichwald said Thursday. “Rural libraries in this county are essential to the people in those communities. I don’t want to put Rio Rancho down — it is a good city and everything else — but they have more access to different things then what the rural communities have.”
Sometimes the only access to the internet in rural communities is at libraries, and this is essential during the pandemic and school having to be partially online, he said.
At the meeting on Aug. 20, commissioners will vote to approve the contents of the bond question that will appear on November’s ballot.