Handing the last mortgage payment to the bank was a wonderful feeling for Washington District Library Director Randall Yelverton.

Handing the last mortgage payment to the bank was a wonderful feeling for Washington District Library Director Randall Yelverton. The library held a reception and celebration Oct. 22 at its main branch at Five Points Washington. Yelverton handed banker Matt Moehle of Washington Community Bank a check for $84,000 during the celebration. The last payment was made five years ahead of schedule. “It's a wonderful experience to see the library pull this off,” Yelverton said after the reception. It cost $2.3 million to build the branch at 380 N. Wilmor Road, which opened in 2007. No tax increase was needed to replace the library's overcrowded, antiquated main branch on Walnut Street, which was sold to the city of Washington and eventually transformed into City Hall. Excluding interest, Yelverton said, $857,000 was originally owed for construction of the Five Points branch. “Paying off the mortgage is a very good story for the community,” he said. “Now we can concentrate on improving services for our patrons.” Yelverton said that by paying off the mortgage five years early, the library board also saves on interest cost associated with the loan. Purchases were delayed to increase mortgage payments. Among the top priorities, Yelverton said, are improved document-sharing devices and new databases. Yelverton was hired as the library's first assistant director in April 2011 and he became director in November 2012 replacing Pam Tomka, who retired after 16 years in the post. The library's journey to financial stability began in 2009, according to library board member Milo Twist. “We were concerned because we were in the red for the 2008-09 fiscal year. Paying for the construction certainly contributed to that,” Twist said. “The first step was to balance the budget.” Twist, now the board's treasurer, credits former board members Roger Stevens, Kevin Doglio, Mary Kerr and Brian Heller with devising strategies to balance the budget and pay off the mortgage. “It was a perfect storm,” he said. “We had the right people in place at the right time to tackle the task at hand.” Besides delaying purchases, Twist said a construction loan was converted to a mortgage loan and the library used money in its working cash fund to make mortgage payments. Yelverton also said staffing as well as equipment needs will be reviewed by the board. No major construction projects are in the library's future. “We have a great facility here that will last a long time before we need to talk expansion,” Yelverton said. As a part of Five Points Washington, Yelverton said the library's profile in the community has been raised and more people than ever are using the facility. “By partnering on Five Points, our benefit has been the increased usage,” Yelverton said. “This drives our circulation.” In the last five years, the library's circulation has increased more than 18 percent.