Some talking points on the library bond vote

I haven’t seen a lot out there about the Richland Library bond vote on the Nov. 5 ballot. So I thought I’d pass on this memo I received from folks who are pushing for a “yes”:

Dear Friends,


Did you know the Richland Library bond referendum will be on the November 5 ballot?  Below is some basic information.  If you would like more details or how to be involved in Vote For Our Libraries, contact us!  803-233-2414

Richland Library


Since 2007, the library has had a capital needs plan that calls for renovations and additions to all library facilities based on the changing ways we serve and advance our community.


Key Facts:


Why is the Library Requesting a Bond Referendum?

Voter approved bonds are the only way the library can obtain substantial funds for building and renovations. The goal is to update all library locations by adding and reconfiguring space, technology and resources to better fit the way customers need and use the library today. The capital needs plan was developed in 2007 and is reviewed each year. The only new buildings are Ballentine and Sandhills. Following green building guidelines and sustainable practices will mean substantial energy savings for all locations.


Why now?

It’s been 24 years since the last bond referendum in 1989, and most of our facilities haven’t been significantly improved or updated since then. Interest rates are at an all-time low – it costs half as much today for twice the value added in 1989.


What will it cost the taxpayer?

Estimates indicate the maximum impact on taxpayers to be $12-14/year for a $100,000 home. For as little as one cup of coffee each month, we can ensure access to needed resources and technology, as well as the opportunity to share information and exchange ideas.


Why spend money on libraries when everyone has a smartphone/tablet?

Technology has made libraries more essential to their communities – not obsolete. In fact, many people in Richland County rely on the library for access to technology, computers and the Internet. Even if you may not use the library, your friends, family and neighbors are most likely relying on its services.

20 thoughts on “Some talking points on the library bond vote

  1. Doug Ross

    I am for this. The library system in Richland County is excellent. This is the way government is supposed to work… but unfortunately is the exception and not the rule.

    I do know someone who works for RCPL who told me the reason for relocating the Sandhills branch is because the current library – located within the walls of the Summit development – has become the de facto babysitting location for students from the middle school across the street. Having to watch a bunch of kids who are just there because their parents can’t trust them to be at home alone is NOT a function the library should be responsible for.

  2. Mark Stewart

    The person, or people I am sure, who wrote and edited the press release need to check out – and read – more than a couple of economics books from the Library.

    What were they trying to say when they wrote ” it costs half as much today for twice the value added in 1989″? Eyes rolling…

    1. Doug Ross

      I don’t pay attention to any of the “facts” provided by marketing and p.r. teams when it comes to pushing for new taxes. These are the same people who claimed the penny tax for transportation would create 16,000 jobs and save drivers several hundred dollars a year in repairs.

  3. Mark Stewart

    Doug, you’re right. The PR writing is horrible, but that doesn’t reflect on the actual value to the area of these two bond measures to the Midlands. Well said.

  4. Silence

    As I read it, for someone in 1CC (City of Columbia, School District 1) the millage schedule is thus (from highest to lowest):
    1) School Operating 243.1
    2) Municipal Levy 98.1
    3) School Bonds 53.0
    4) County Operating 51.2
    5) Fire Service Operating 18.7
    6) Library 14.3
    7) County Bonds 9.0
    8) Midlands Tech 4.5
    9) Landfill 3.1
    10) Capital Replacement 3.1
    11) Riverbanks Zoo Operating 1.3
    12) Mental Health 1.2
    13) Riverbanks Zoo Bonds 0.7
    14) Conservation Commission 0.5
    15) Neighborhood Redevelopment 0.5
    The total levy is 502.3

    I was very suprised that the RCPL is the 6th biggest line item that we are paying for.

    1. Doug Ross

      Do you think you are getting a good value for your tax dollars spent on School Operating costs?

      Personally, I don’t think property tax dollars should be used for the zoo. That would be a perfect place to allocate hospitality taxes — it meets the specific purpose of those taxes.

      There’s the solution – drop the property tax funding of the zoo, shift those dollars to the RCPL, and fund the zoo from hospitality taxes. No tax increase required.

      I’d also be fine with increasing the taxes that go to Midlands Tech. It provides a good value for the dollar now and will be the best path out of poverty for many young people who aren’t cut out for a four year college.

      1. Silence

        I don’t think I get my money’s worth on the school tax. I’m zoned for awful schools, and I don’t have any school-aged progeny. I get even less of my money’s worth from the school bonds.

        I wonder why the zoo, which is such a regional draw, doesn’t get an H-tax allocation? Maybe it does. Anyways, I think the zoo is some sort of SPD which gets an assessment allocation from every payer in the district. I do use the heck out of the zoo, though. I was very disappointed when I read that after the zoo renovates with the proceeds of the new zoo bond, we will be gaining a net increase of one animal exhibit. I think we deserve better than that for our millions.

        I was very suprised that the library was so expensive, in terms of how our taxes are allocated. Maybe it’s time to rethink having so many branch locations, and what services are offered? I say this as someone who utilizes the library (Main Branch) frequently, and as a library supporter. I want to know how much was spent on the rebranding – which doesn’t really add any value, IMHO.

        As far as Midlands Tech – I never expect to utilize it, and I could not even care that it exists. I plan to send my kids to a four year college. No offense intended to the community college fans out there.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          The zoo is adding all kinds of money-making attractions like the zip lines. I think animal exhibits are very expensive to build and even more to maintain.

          We get value from public schools regardless of whether we have progeny in them! Sure, they could be better! Not sure there is a lot of waste, though [steps back, awaiting the deluge of derision]

          1. Doug Ross

            “Not sure there is a lot of waste, though”

            There is. ‘Nuff said. Mostly on bricks and mortar instead of education. Half a billion in Richland Two during my twenty years here.

          2. Silence

            Over one million dollars of wrought iron fencing purchased with the last bond issue begs to differ.
            I wonder if the zip lines will actually be money making? They seem to be springing up everywhere lately. They don’t really further the zoo’s educational or conservation mission. The “Sky-High Zoofari” seems to do a good business. Not sure what other money making attractions are being added, but I guess I’m a purist when it comes to zoos and think it should be about the animals.

  5. Silence

    Silence’s List of Things Riverbanks Doesn’t Have That Are Essential for a Proper Zoo:
    1) Hippopotamus. It’s been over a decade since Riverbanks had a hippo. There aren’t any in the southeast that I could find either. The closest one is in DC.
    2) An actual narrow gauge railway train that runs on tracks. – not a glorified golf cart with train car style trailers behind it.
    3) Rhino.
    4) More Big Cats – A Tiger. The Riverbanks Zoo tiger has been AWOL lately, and I’m wondering if he’s met with an untimely end. Leopards and Panthers would be cool as well.
    5) Polar Bears – I know Riverbanks used to have them, and yes, it’s a bit hot for them around here in the Summer, but they would be a draw. Also Black Bears – a local/regional native species that would also be a draw.
    6) Great Apes – Bonobos, Chimps, Orangs would be a great draw.

    Superfluous Crap we can get rid of:
    1) Some of the Australian animals. If there’s one continent that’s overrepresented at the zoo it’s Australia. Keep the koalas, but the kangaroos and all the wallabies wouldn’t be missed.
    2) Fake Train – it is an affront to railfans and foamers everywhere.
    3) Sky High Zoofari & Ziplines – perhaps profitable, but not core.
    4) Climbing Wall – not core.
    5) Sturgeon – they moved the sturgeon into the pond with the alligator and now you can’t see them at all – if they are even still in there.
    6) Tiny Komodo Dragons – OK, we get it. You have dragons. There be dragons there. The whole point of Komodo Dragons is that they are BIG. When you have other monitor lizards that are bigger than your Komodo Dragons, what kind of a draw is that? I know they will get big eventually, but right now they are not.

    1. Doug Ross

      They definitely need lions, tigers, and bears. Oh my.

      They should also cut down on the number of red bellied rednecks that frequent the area.

      1. Silence

        I thought of one more animal they could get rid of: the hyenas. I think every zoo in the country probably added hyenas, meerkats and warthogs after The Lion King became such a huge success. They have run their course, and you can get rid of them. Here’s why:
        1) They look like pretty much like domestic dogs
        2) They sleep all the time and you can’t even see them in their enclosure cause the grass is so high
        3) They are listed as a “Species of Least Concern” meaning keeping them doesn’t serve any conservation purpose
        4) Their exhibit could be better used by another large mammal
        5) Kids today have probably never seen The Lion King and could care less

        Actually, these may be one of the animals slated to go away under the zoo’s current renovation plan.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          God: Don’t forget the hyenas.
          Noah: Hyenas! They’re superfluous crap! They look like dogs — particularly UGLY dogs — and their manic laughter makes me as crazy as all my neighbors already think I am for building this ark. I’m not letting the hyenas in.
          God: Noah…
          Noah: What, Lord?
          God: How long can you tread water?
          Noah: OK, OK, I’ll get some hyenas…
          God: One of each.
          Noah: OK, that’s another thing. Why do these pairs have to consist of one male and one female? Why not an affectionate pair of the same gender? Don’t you think it’s kind of narrow-minded to…
          God: Noah…
          Noah: Yeah, OK, OK. One of each…

  6. Betsy Hackett

    Just stumbled on your site. Sorry Brad. Enjoyed reading the comments. I think the rebranding was a huge waste of money as evidenced by the above comments using RCPL instead of the new name. I believe it was just a PR push to remind people that the library exists. I use it all the time, but the majority of Richland County residents never utilize the resources.

    Has anyone seen the new library Teen Center downtown? It has a 3D printer, recording studio, big screen tv, games,etc. Custom metal work. How much did that cost?

  7. Ruth Smyrl

    As a lover of the library, I encouraged everyone I knew to vote in their favor. Sadly, if I had known it would lead to the loss of books in the library I would have never supported it.

    I popped in today to pick up a few books and was heartbroken to see all of the empty shelves. I spoke with a few of the veteran librarians who were just as sad as I was. Others did not want to hear me disparage the decision to shrink the shelves. “There is a comment card if you would like to share your ideas.” I think it would most likely end up with the lost volumes…

    Of course, when I was trying to decide what to read next, I had to try and shut out the noise from the teen room as they threw each other on beanbags and shrieked. If the actions of the library are driving me to be a curmudgeon, I will proudly answer to the title.

    Give me back my RCPL!


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