Library Expansion – Will it Happen?

By Audrey Betcher, Library Director
The library expansion was included in the list of projects slated for the sales tax extension. The list of projects was approved by the Rochester City Council in December. We are very excited to be included!
Before library expansion can take place, the sales tax extension needs to get approval from two more
entities: the state legislature and the voters of Rochester.
Rochester has had a local sales tax since 1983. It has been of great value to Rochester, Olmsted
County, and the State of Minnesota. Past projects included: flood control, local costs for Highway 52
and for other major City and County Arterial Road projects, and funding for Higher Education Facilities
at RCTC and the University of Minnesota – Rochester.
In 2010 the City had an extensive public process to identify projects for the sales tax extension. The library
presentation was one of many that the citizen committee heard. The City is asking the state legislature to allow the Rochester citizens to have a referendum to extend the current half cent sales tax.
If the state legislature approves the referendum, then the citizens of Rochester will vote on whether
they want to extend the sales tax. Only if both are approved will the library expansion take place.
If the expansion takes place, here are our preliminary expectations:
The third floor of the library would be completed and a fourth floor would be added above the rectangular
portion of the library. The total addition on both floors would be approximately 30,000 square feet. (The current building is 85,470 square feet.)
The entire amount the library requested was not approved. We don’t know yet exactly what that means for the library expansion, but we expect some of the space to be shelled in to be completed at a later date.
I know nothing is certain as the sales tax extension moves forward through its processes, but I am very jazzed to think about the possibilities of how we can better serve the public through a better space.

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