Voters: What you need to know about Lombard's library referendum
It has been 40 years since voters approved a tax rate increase for the Helen Plum Library.
The building at 110 W. Maple St. in Lombard was constructed in 1963. An addition was completed in 1978.
Since then, no extra space has been added, and many structural repairs and improvements have been put aside, including replacement of the original heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.
In 2004, about 56 percent of voters rejected a request to borrow $23.5 million to construct a new building. Now, a similar proposal is back on the Nov. 8 ballot, but the amount has been lowered to $22.3 million.
Library officials will make a presentation about the referendum question at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, during the village board meeting at village hall, 255 E. Wilson Ave.
Here are eight things to know about issues surrounding the referendum question:
Q. What is the library asking for?
A. The library is seeking voter permission to borrow $22.3 million that will be repaid over a 20-year period. The money would be put toward construction of a 51,800-square-foot building that would be nearly twice the size of the current library. It also would cover the cost of a temporary location, new furnishings, new technology and other fees and expenses.
Q. Why does the library need to go to referendum?
A. A professional assessment done last year showed the current library needs $8 million worth of work to replace its original HVAC system, make structural repairs and do basic renovations. The library only has $1 million in its special and capital reserve funds, which resulted in the board agreeing to ask for funding through a referendum to avoid cutting services.
Q. What will the question look like on the ballot?
A. Voters will be asked whether the library can increase its tax rate from 0.2763 percent to 0.4923 percent. If approved, the rate will be multiplied by a home's net taxable value to determine the cost for taxpayers. The rate will remain the same during the duration of the bond issuance.
Q. Will approval of the referendum proposal result in higher property taxes?
A. Yes. If approved, homeowners can estimate an increase of about $72 per year, or about $6 per month, on their property taxes for every $100,000 of their home's fair market value.
Q. Where will the new library be built?
A. The building will be constructed in the same area as the current location, on the northwest corner of Maple and Park streets. The library already owns the land, along with a lot just west of the existing building. Library officials explored the option of moving the building to Main Street and Parkside Avenue, but architects said the site was not large enough. The former Mr. Z's property also was considered, but that would require a property purchase of more than $2 million and significant renovations to the existing building on the site.
Q. How long will the project take?
A. If voters approve the measure, it is estimated workers won't break ground until late 2017. Library officials will need several months to approve designs, hire contractors and find a temporary location. The entire transition from the current building to a new library is expected to take about two years, with doors on the new building likely opening in late 2018 or early 2019.
Q. Where will the library temporarily be relocated during construction?
A. Library officials are waiting for the results of the election before making a decision on a temporary location.
Q. What happens if voters reject the request?
A. A no vote in this election would result in the immediate review of the library's operating budget by the board and staff, to determine which services, collections, programs, building hours and staff can be cut or reduced so funds can start being set aside to pay for necessary building replacements. There will be no increase in study or meeting spaces and other proposed improvements, like a drive-through service and a new computer lab, will not be implemented.