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Thoemke Wants to Set Record Straight

 

June 14, 2018



Dear Editor,

Over the years, I’ve repeatedly been accused of being “opposed to the library,” most recently by a new Village of New Glarus trustee who has never even bothered to speak with me. I’d like to take a moment to set the record straight.

I believe libraries are an important “quality of life” municipal asset, as are parks, pools, green space, sports leagues, etc. The challenge in New Glarus (and elsewhere) is providing, operating and maintaining a balance of municipal amenities, in the absence of an unlimited budget.  

I appreciate the New Glarus library board’s effort and passion for a new library facility. However, the long history of this project gives me ample reason to be concerned about their ability to build and operate a new, 12,000 square foot facility.  

In summer of 2012, the library board commenced fundraising for their new building, with a stated goal of raising $1.25 million, in time to break ground by spring of 2013 (as documented in their January 2013 document titled “Library Building Project Update”). Today, six years later, only $832,000 has been raised (through 04/30/18).  

Along the way, they’ve paid over $69,000 to a fundraising consultant and another $41,000 to the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, eroding balances available for construction costs in the process. On cash balances averaging over $500,000, they’ve earned a total of less than $9,000 in investment returns over nearly six years – a return that doesn’t come close to keeping pace with inflation.  

More recently, the library board admitted that they’ll need to raise not $1 million but $2 million, to be combined with the $1 million in borrowing pledged by the village, in order to build the roughly 12,000 square foot building featured in their campaign literature. They set and failed to achieve an intermediate goal of raising $1 million by 03/31/18. Nevertheless, they target the end of 2018 for achievement of the $2 million goal.  

All New Glarus residents – especially past, present and prospective donors – deserve to know these historical facts, so that they can arrive at informed conclusions about this project. I’ll happily provide documentation for every statement I’ve made above, to anyone who contacts me at gt4ng@yahoo.com. All New Glarus residents deserve an affordable, balanced portfolio of “quality of life” municipal assets, including – but not limited to – a library.  

Greg Thoemke,

Village of New Glarus

 
 

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