By Wesley Harris (Claiborne Parish Library Historian)
The Claiborne Parish Library is now debt free, according to Library Director Pam Suggs.
The Claiborne Parish Police Jury, the Library Board of Control, and officials from Gibsland Bank and Trust are celebrating the payment of the library’s bond debt a year early. This means the Claiborne Parish Library has no bond indebtedness for the main branch of the library in Homer which opened in 2014.
“The main branch of the library continues to be one of Claiborne Parish’s best assets,” Suggs said. “This beautiful building is helping the library meet its mission statement ‘to provide the citizens of the parish with the best possible library service to meet their informational, educational, cultural, and recreational needs.’”
On April 29, Claiborne Parish voters will go to the polls to consider the renewal of the library’s ad valorem millage which provides for construction, maintenance, and operation of the Claiborne Parish Library System. Suggs explained, “The Library Board of Control and the Claiborne Parish Police Jury called this election for the library to have the ability to borrow money, in addition to the funds that have been saved, for the renovation of the Capital One bank building in Haynesville to house the Joe W. Webb Memorial Library.”
The Haynesville branch is currently housed in a cramped 100+ year old building that experiences all the problems expected in a structure of that age.
The library has been putting aside money for the renovation of the Capital One building and has accumulated the funds to start but will need to borrow money to finance the entire project.
“To cover the costs of a low interest loan, our ad valorem tax must be extended,” Suggs said. “This will allow us to complete the building project and continue to improve our services to the parish without asking for an increase in the millage rate. This is not an increase in the millage rate or a new tax; the election is just a renewal of the library’s present assessment at 6.19 mills.”
Suggs said the Board of Control, the Police Jury, and the Library were proud the Homer branch could be paid off in full before commencing renovation of the Haynesville branch.
“We will be able to expand our services in Haynesville with the new location, Suggs said, “especially in terms of meeting and exhibit space. It will be a true community center, not merely a collection of books.”
The new facility will feature significant space for community events, traveling exhibits, and other activities that cannot be held in the current small Haynesville location.
Suggs stressed the April 29 referendum is to renew the current tax rate; no new taxes are being sought.