The people spoke, and the commission listened.
“The public has bought into the library expansion,” commissioner Usha Reddi said at Tuesday night’s meeting.
“I think it’s insulting to constantly beat on the debt when they are saying, ‘We are good with this.’ And they’ve said it in multiple ways — with their money they’ve said it, with their votes, and they’ve said it in the media. That’s why I’m for the library expansion.”
Commissioner Wynn Butler, on the other hand, repeatedly had said he planned to vote against the expansion project because it added to city debt.
As a compromise during a previous meeting with the commission, the library board raised $800,000 in private donations to help fund the project — but Butler was still against it.
By Tuesday, however, Butler had come around.
He said he changed his mind after discussing the possibility of the commission setting aside economic development money from the half-cent sales tax to cover any shortfalls the library may have after the first five years.
City manager Ron Fehr said the commission could do that during their budget discussions, and would not need to amend the contract between the library and the city.
Fehr said that since the city approves the library budget each year, the commission could shift funds from other sources to cover the library’s budget.
The commission approved the contract to build the library expansion with a 5-0 vote.
In other business Tuesday:
• The commission unanimously approved a sign for Radina’s bakery on the new Gwen Riffel mixed-use building on the corner of Third and Fort Riley Boulevard. Because the sign was not part of the original design, the commission had to approve the change in the design.
• Commissioners also approved the consent agenda, which included adding $15 million to the city debt and building a dedicated sewer line for NBAF.
• Commissioner Rich Jankovich abstained on issuing temporary notes for $6.6 million in street and sewer improvements because his employer was the bank for the notes.
• Commissioner Karen McCulloh abstained on the city supporting Manhattan Area Housing Partnership to apply for a tax credit from the state because she is on the Housing Authority board.
• All items passed 5-0 except those that had abstentions, and those items passed 4-0-1.