Barring unforeseen circumstances, the Webster Parish library system should be banking $2.2 million next week dedicated to “…acquiring, constructing, improving, furnishing and equipping, operating and/or maintaining” public libraries in the parish.

Parish police jury members unanimously approved a resolution at their meeting Tuesday to take on the debt and issue certificates of indebtedness for the $2.2 million.

Beverly Hammett, head of the parish library system, said the certificates do not represent a new tax on the people of Webster Parish. The original bond issue, passed 20 years ago to fund new libraries in Springhill and Minden, has been paid and dropped from the tax rolls this year.

“I want to make it clear that this is not a new or additional tax,” she said. “Obtaining certificates of indebtedness is a little more complicated for public agencies, but it is similar to an individual going to the bank and borrowing money to buy a house.”
Hammett said the state bond commission looked at the system’s financials and determined the library was a good candidate for a loan.

“Banks vie for the opportunity to loan the money through a bid process,” she explained. “The winning bidder is the bank which offers the lowest interest rate.”

Grant Schlueter, an attorney with Foley & Judell in New Orleans, helped guide Hammett and the library board through the steps necessary to seek bids on the project.

“We sent out the proposals and last Thursday the bids came in. We had eight banks respond,” Schlueter said. “That is a very good response. The interest rate we received is lower than we projected. We will close on the loan next Wednesday, so the money is almost here.”

Schlueter and Hammett said JP Morgan Chase Bank was the lowest bidder on the certificates with an interest rate of 2.26 percent over the 10-year life of the loan. After the money is received, payments to the bank will be made from the library’s existing yearly revenue stream.

Hammett said the parish library Board of Control on October 1 selected Shreveport architect Mike McSwain to design and oversee the expansion and renovation of the Mack Memorial Library in Springhill. Now that the loan has been secured, the next step will be the design development phase.

“The project should be ready to go to bid in approximately six months, and construction time is estimated at 14 to 16 months,” Hammett said.

Another library project at Heflin has been complete and opening ceremonies are planned for next week, Hammett said. The cinderblock building, originally constructed in 1939, has undergone an extensive facelift.

And, Hammett added, the 85th anniversary of the local library will be celebrated October 29. Included in the exhibits will be photos from 1929, she said.

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