Des Plaines city council approves library loan

The Des Plaines Public Library will be able to remain open in December with full staffing and keep its regular business hours, city officials said this week.

The Des Plaines City Council on Monday approved the library's loan request for up to $1.5 million to keep the library open through year end.

The library board initially decided to close the library Dec. 5 for the remainder of the year due to expected delays in Cook County's property tax disbursement.

The board later changed that to keeping the library open for 52 hours a week, with a minimum 32 employees, unless the city of Des Plaines cosigned a bank loan or property tax receipts arrived in time.

Since the municipal library is not a separate taxing body the city must cosign for any loans.

There was little discussion on the council floor Monday night before the library's loan request was approved unanimously and advanced to second reading so the ordinance could be adopted immediately, said Des Plaines acting City Manager Jason Slowinski.

The vote was 7-0 to approve the loan with 2nd Ward Alderman John Robinson abstaining since he also sits on the library board.

Slowinski said the city granted a loan of up to $1.5 million, though officials don't expect the library will need that much.

Library Director Holly Sorensen last month told the city council the library needs only $550,000 to stay open through December with full staffing.

Slowinski said city officials changed the language of the ordinance, which initially proposed a repayment period of 10 years, “which in our view was a little bit too long for a short-term loan.”

“They have agreed to repay it when the next installment of the property taxes come in,” Slowinski said.

The city itself will soon need to go out for a $3.5 million short-term loan to cover its debt payments due at the end of the year. That's also due to delays in receiving property tax disbursements and partly because the city's fund balances aren't sufficient, Slowinski said.

“Last year, we had to do the same thing,” Slowinski said. “We did it for $6.5 million. Each year we are getting a little bit better but we're still in the same position of having to do it.”

That will be discussed at the Nov. 15 city council meeting.

“If the council approves that we would likely combine them (with the library loan) and go out together so we could probably get a better interest rate for both,” Slowinski said.