$9.6 million Antioch library renovation approved by 8 votes
It took more than two weeks to learn the final tally, but a measure enabling a major upgrade of the Antioch library came out on top by 8 votes out of 13,162 cast.
Supporters are relieved at the incredibly close outcome, but say voter approval of borrowing $9.6 million to expand and renovate the library is a victory for all.
"We really are here to serve everybody whether it's a 'Yes' vote or a 'No' vote," said library Director Jennifer Drinka. "If it would have been a 'No' vote, we would have been fine, too. We wanted to ask" voters.
The tally, canvassed Thursday by Lake County Clerk Robin O'Connor, was 6,585 in favor of the ballot question and 6,577 against.
"I was blown away by the fact we won. However, it speaks or Antioch -- people like the library," said Ann Kakacek, who served for 36 years on the library board, including the last 26 years as president before opting not to run in 2017.
Kakacek led a grass-roots group of library supporters who educated voters on the proposal leading up to Election Day.
"We didn't threaten anything," she said. "We went ahead in a respectful way. Even our signs were small."
The library district serves 26,000 in Antioch, Antioch Township and parts of Fox Lake, Spring Grove and Newport Township.
Drinka said the library began assessing its options for the building at 757 N. Main St. (Route 83) in 2017. That included a survey of about 1,000 library users and nonusers.
The availability of coffee; enhanced, comfortable places to read; a makerspace; and, a teen area were among the top requests.
The need to replace the roof and HVAC system, among other work, was also a consideration in seeking voter approval to expand and remodel the library, the first such request since it was built in 1970.
"We went about this because people asked for it," Drinka said. "We really wanted to know, 'What is the total community support for this?'" she added.
Drinka said she learned that more referendums passed during high turnout elections. It was a close vote against the measure on election night, but with tens of thousands of votes still outstanding everyone knew that could change.
The approval will add about $50 a year to the property tax bill of a home valued at $200,000.
Kakacek said the thought of an improved library may have been sort of a ray of hope during a dark time.
"People don't want to spend more money on their taxes," she said. "We respect every 'No' vote."
There was no apparent organized opposition. However, it technically isn't over.
Electors can petition the county clerk for discovery and select no more than 25% of precincts within the district to be retabulated or hand counted.
Filers have five calendar days after the last day all election authorities must certify to the State Board of Elections, which is Nov. 24. Since the clerk's office is closed Nov. 26 and Nov. 27, that deadline is Dec. 1.