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updated: 4/4/2012 3:11 PM

Aurora library pledges collaboration in plea for funds

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  • The Aurora Public Library is seeking a tax increase and $30 million in bond funding to build a new downtown library with more computers, meeting rooms and flexible spaces. The money also would fund technology upgrades for the whole library system. Aurora City Council will vote on the tax increase and bond issuance at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 10.

       The Aurora Public Library is seeking a tax increase and $30 million in bond funding to build a new downtown library with more computers, meeting rooms and flexible spaces. The money also would fund technology upgrades for the whole library system. Aurora City Council will vote on the tax increase and bond issuance at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 10.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 

Aurora Public Library officials made a few pledges during their most recent plea for the city's support of their proposed $27 million downtown library and $3 million in systemwide improvements.

If a tax increase is approved and $30 million in bonds are sold to fund the project, library board member John Savage said the library will keep the money local, provide opportunities for minority contractors and lessen the city's tax burden by fundraising and seeking grants.

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"Obviously, we're asking a big commitment of the city council to support this," Savage said Tuesday night.

Property taxes would increase about $26 a year for a home valued at $180,000, but the actual amount paid by Aurora homeowners would vary as widely as home values do.

Savage said now is the right time to take on the debt and build the proposed 92,000- square-foot downtown library because of low interest rates and contractors hungry for projects.

"We save millions of dollars in potential bond debt by doing this project now," Savage said.

The project includes construction of the new downtown library, creation of two satellite locations -- one on Aurora's northeast side and one on the rapidly growing southeast side -- purchase of electronic kiosks for reserving and downloading books remotely, and more collaboration with school districts.

"We're committed to a really ambitious plan here that changes the entire face of the Aurora library system," Savage said.

Aldermen appeared relatively supportive of the plan, asking only a couple questions after Savage's presentation.

"What, specifically, has changed from the first presentation in your approach and your business plan?" asked Alderman Rick Lawrence, whose ward includes the southwest corner of River and Benton streets where the new library would be built.

Originally, the library was focused only on building a new downtown location, Savage said, but now the scope of planned improvements is broader.

"If we're really going to take a step forward and be cutting-edge, really leverage technology, what we really need to focus on are improvements for the entire community," Savage said. "We need to have a library that is cutting-edge with technology, not only today, but looking to the future."

The city council will vote on the tax increase and bond issue during its next meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 10.

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