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March 19, 2019 12:44 pm

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S-D District Library Board Planning More Public Fundraisers In 2015 For New Building

        The Saugatuck-Douglas District Library board is planning to launch a public fundraising effort in 2015 as part of its ongoing capital campaign to help fund a new building to replace its current home at 10 Mixer St., in Douglas.
        The decision comes despite an admittedly disappointing capital campaign in 2014 that failed to meet its goal of raising $750,000 to $1 million or attract a “lead donor”.
        According to a recent newsletter disseminated by the library, the capital campaign had as of Oct. 22, 2014 collected $363,256 in cash gifts and pledges - far short of the anticipated $1 million+ board members had hoped to raise.
        The lower-than-anticipated fundraising effort did not deter the library board from purchasing land in Douglas for the new facility costing nearly $200,000 or halt a ballot initiative last November asking area voters to approve a more than $5 million millage for the proposed new building, along with requesting millions more for expected operating costs.
        Both measures went down in defeat.
        Additionally, of that $363,256 figure supposedly raised last year, $80,000 in pledges were contingent upon passage of the millage requests, according to the board.
        Since that did not happen, the library’s capital campaign, in reality, netted only $283,256, a far cry from the more than $5 million+ sought for the proposed new building costs alone.
        Capital Campaign Chair Cathy Brockington said an unnamed consultant was hired to guide the effort last year “and helped recruit and train a core group of 32 volunteers” with board members working on the campaign “to some degree.”
        Brockington said the board - in deciding to undertake a captial campaign - visited new and newly remodeled libraries and discovered that “none of the projects were completely funded by a millage vote, nor were any of them funded entirely by private donations.”
        Brockington said it was determined that they would follow a private-public model and a capital campaign would be necessary.
        Individuals, families and friends were then identified by the board to be solicited for donations while also looking for a “lead donor,” someone who would bring other key donors and dollars into the mix.
        Additionally, the board tried selling naming rights to everything from the newly proposed building to bike racks, but came up extremely short.
        “Unfortunately, we were unable to find a lead donor to give the campaign the momentum it needed to reach our goal,” said Brockington.
        Now, for the 2015 fundraising effort, the board “will be asking the public to organize, sponsor or participate in community fundraisers.
         The board also will continue to search for a “lead donor”.
        Brockington did not state in the library newsletter why the board decided to continue to pursue a multi-millon-dollar double millage request (building costs and operating costs) from area voters when, in fact, it had raised only a little more than 7% of the anticipated building costs in actual donations and pledges that could be used for the project.
        She also did not say why she or other library board members  felt another public fundraising effort in 2015 would result in any better result than that realized in 2014.
        Also, Brockington did not address - as is expected by many in the community - whether or when the library board would once again put millage requests on the ballot in seeking what is expected to be another multi-million-dollar tax request.
        In addition, no mention was made of whether the board is even considering reducing its previous $5+ million millage request (solely for the building costs) or the request for millions more in operating costs when it again puts the measures before the voters, as is expected next year (2015).
        Addressing why the library board purchased the property for a new building when it hadn’t as yet received public approval of its millage requests, Brockington said:
   “In speaking to potential donors, various buildings and properties were offered as possible locations for the new library.
   “Unfortunately, after consulting (unnamed) experts, none of the suggested sites was feasible. The board made the purchase based on the following:
* The price was less than 5% of the total project cost
* It is central to the downtown Douglas business district
* It is within walking distance to Douglas Elementary School
* It is large enough to accommodate a one-level building to eliminate access issues.
* It would allow for adjacent, off-street parking.

S-D District Library Board Planning More Public Fundraisers In 2015 For New Building

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