Aspen expansion, inflation drive increase in Cook Memorial Library budget

As planning continues on a proposed expansion of the Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills, Cook Memorial Public Library District officials have approved a roughly $12.7 million budget for the 2019 fiscal year.

That's up nearly $1 million, or about 8 percent, from the previous year's $11.8 million spending plan. The new fiscal year began July 1.

Spending is rising, officials said, because of the upcoming Aspen Drive Library expansion and the rate of inflation. No major construction work is planned for the Cook Park Library in Libertyville.

"Our focus this year will be the expansion at Aspen Drive," library Director David Archer said.

Construction of the roughly $6.8 million, 15,000-square-foot addition is expected to begin in spring 2019 and conclude next fall. Architects already have been designing the new space.

Funding will come from a $4.5 million loan, about $2.3 million in savings and fundraising efforts. Officials aren't asking voters to approve a tax increase for the project.

Most of the spending associated with the project will occur in the 2020 fiscal year, near the end of construction, Archer said.

The library board approved the new budget Tuesday.

In addition to money for the Aspen Drive expansion, the budget includes $85,000 for future computer replacements at both buildings.

"About every five years, we replace patron and staff computers all at once," Archer said. "Setting aside $85,000 annually enables us to purchase computers without adversely affecting other budget items."

It also allows the district to take advantage of any available volume discounts.

The library district's revenue from property taxes, fees and other sources is expected to increase, too, but not as significantly.

District leaders expect to collect about $9.3 million in revenue during the new fiscal year, up about 2.4 percent from the nearly $9.1 million revenue prediction for the 2018 fiscal year.

Revenues are rising due to an anticipated jump in property taxes and construction in the district, officials said.

Projected spending is significantly greater than projected revenue because money has been saved up over time for the Aspen Drive Library project, Cook Memorial business manager Russ Cerqua said.

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