The Bellevue Public Library, built in 1975, no longer meets the city’s needs, residents told consultants during a nine-month study. But a new library would be too costly, the City Council says.

Bellevue needs to raise its sales tax a half-cent if it wants to follow through on its plan to build a new library and aquatics center as well as continue to develop thousands of acres south of Offutt Air Force Base, according to City Administrator Joe Mangiamelli.

A memo written by Mangiamelli to City Council members this month said $2 million has been transferred from the city’s contingency reserve since the 2015-16 fiscal year. That money has been placed into an LB 840 fund, so named for the state law that enabled the creation of voter-approved development funds.

The fund is dedicated to making 5,000 acres south of Offutt suitable for industrial development.

But Mangiamelli, who will leave the administrator’s position on Dec. 10 after serving for two years, said the fund cannot be fed indefinitely from the city’s reserves.

“That is not sustainable,” he wrote.

It’s estimated that an additional half-cent sales tax would generate about $3 million a year for the city.

He urged the council to seriously consider asking voters for the increase during its upcoming annual strategic planning session and suggested that a special election be held to decide the issue.

“The city cannot give lip service to these issues anymore,” he wrote. “It is time for strong leadership and action to move Bellevue forward and achieve the goals established by voter demand and citizen support.”

Mangiamelli estimated the cost of installing adequate storm and sewer infrastructure in the LB 840 area at approximately $7.5 million, with the cost of a new library or aquatics facility in southwest Bellevue yet unknown.

Bellevue’s current sales tax is 1.5 percent, which, added to the state’s sales tax of 5.5 percent, makes a total of 7 percent. The increase to 2 percent would raise the overall sales tax to 7.5 percent.

The cities of Papillion and La Vista both already levy a 2 percent sales tax.

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