Bonds, Costs and Taxes for a New Library and Events Center Explained

On March 15 (although much sooner for some), Winter Park voters will be asked to choose whether they will allow the City of Winter Park to sell up to $30 million in bonds to fund a new library, events center and parking that will be constructed at the corner of Morse Boulevard and Harper Avenue.

Bonds are how the citizens of Winter Park join together and do extraordinary things for our community that couldn’t happen otherwise. Over the last 25 years, Winter Park residents have passed four bond referendums:

Purchasing of the electric utility – 2003
Construction of the Public Safety Building – 2000
Purchasing the golf course – 1996
Major renovation of the Farmer’s Market and third floor of current library building – 1992

All of these projects have proven to be positive investments in our community, and the referendum to fund the new library, events center and parking is just as worthy.

We know our residents have questions about the proposed bonds. Here are some answers...
Most questions fall into two categories:
What’s included in the price tag?
What is this going to cost me personally?
 

What’s included in the price tag?

- This is NOT a $30 million library. The “up to $30 million” cost includes three facilities being constructed for the benefit of all residents: a 50,000 square-foot library, an 8,000 square-foot events center and a 220-space, 1-story parking deck. All three fit almost completely on the site of the existing civic center.

This is how the costs break down:
New library - $17,435,700 - $2.5 million from Winter Park Library Association = $14,935,700
New events center - $3,568,172
Parking deck - $3,004,943
Other shared Costs - $8,405,496 (includes demolition, design and engineering fees, public events courtyard, site prep, landscaping, park improvements, etc.)
Net concept budget total for the project is $29,914,311.

- The bond covers the full costs of design, site preparation, construction, furnishing and equipment, and landscaping for all three structures -- AND improvement to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.

- The bond wording says “up to” and we fully expect value engineering  to take place during the actual design phase. This means that design changes will be made to keep the quality of the building up while holding costs down. The City Commission ultimately decdes how much in bonds to issue.

- The “up to $30 million” price tag includes a whopping 15% contingency -- "just in case" money that insulates residents from possible increases in labor costs, fuel, construction materials, etc. Standard contingency is 5-7%. The conceptual budget was created using an abundance of caution.  If construction costs remain stable, there is already significant cost reduction built-in.

- The Library portion of the three-facility project is $15,487,000. Constructing a library is more expensive than building a more general purpose structure because it must have reinforced floors for the weight of the books, significant technology, and the furniture, fixtures, or other equipment costs are higher as well.

- All three structures are being designed to be flexible enough to last for generations. We don’t want to be having conversations about significant renovations in just a few decades. These new structures will have features such as raised floors that allow walls, electrical, cabling, and even plumbing to be easily moved and reconfigured as community needs change. The flexibility will give the buildings longevity, but that costs more up front.

- There are funds built into the budget for improvements to MLK Park. Improvements will be made to the landscaping, storm water treatment, tree canopy, walking paths and overall health of the park.

- A modern, beautiful events center with a higher capacity will be designed to attract additional rental business at a higher rental rate for non-residents that will go back to the City.

 

What is this going to cost me personally?

Obviously the bonds have to be paid back, and those are done through citizen taxes. Here is what that will look like for the average homeowner.

- When you account for the golf course bonds rolling off this year, the maximum net tax impact is $41/$100,000 of tax-assessed value. This includes the cost of the interest. At its very highest amount, the measure would cost the average Winter Park homeowner with $300,000 in tax-assessed value $123 per year or $10.25 per month.

- The amount on your tax bill decreases each year as the debt is paid down.

- When the public safety bonds roll off in four years, the bond debt decreases by another $20/100,000. So in just four years, the net costs to the average homeowner in Winter Park will be just $5.25 per month.

- The millage rate for the bonds  is only ever high enough to service the debt. So even if you have a great year in terms of your house value, the millage doesn't increase at the same rate. As new properties enter the tax rolls, the tax burden is spread out amount all of the Winter Park tax baseand the amount you pay decreases even further.

Winter Park has a world-class college, museums, churches, hotel and homes – and we need and deserve a world-class library and events center. This does not mean extravagant.  It simply means flexible, technologically sound, accessible to the disabled, and engaging to a broader range of our community’s residents.  These facilities will serve the immediate needs of all of our residents and are designed for the long-term with flexibility for what may come in the future.

March 12, 2016

Want to know more about the effort to bring a new library, event center and parking to Winter Park? Try these articles:
A New Library? Why Not Renovate?
Why does Winter Park need a new Library building?
Bonds, Costs and Taxes for a New Library and Events Center Explained
Endorsements for New Library and Events Center
An Outside, Expert Opinion on the New Library, Events Center, Parking Project
Realtor Association Endorses Library and Events Center Referendum