LEMONT – The Lemont Public Library is considering placing a referendum question on the November ballot asking for $2.8 million in building bonds to pay for a renovation project.
The library board held a public meeting Tuesday to discuss the financing details and make their case for why the project in needed. A second, identical meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 6.
The board presented a 15-year amortization schedule at a projected interest rate of 3.6 percent.
The estimated annual debt service will be approximately $270,000, starting in 2015. The final payment of existing bonds will be in December 2015.
Because of low interest rates, taxes for debt service will decrease by approximately 30 percent as opposed to taxes required to pay off the current bonds.
Library board president Vytenis Kirvelaitis said a bond measure is necessary for the project because the library's annual budget is $1.3 million and it only has three months of operating preserves.
He said the $2.8 million budget includes contingency funds for unexpected costs.
"One of the things we wanted to be was very fiscally conservative and prudent," he said. "We didn't want to come up with a number and suddenly unexpected things happen."
Library director Sandra Pointon said the library has also tried to be fiscally conservative by repairing its current equipment for as long as possible. But with the building almost 20 years old, $500,000 of physical and mechanical updates will be needed during the next few years.
"We've kind of reached our limit with what we can do with the facility as it is," she said.
The renovation project would also include a major redesign of the library space, which the board presented in a preliminary outline during an April 1 meeting.
It would involve building a new meeting room and training room to the east of the front entrance.
The library would reorganize existing space to create an enclosed, quiet reading room, two more study rooms and a young adult section more separate from the children’s section. The checkout desk would be moved to the front of the building, west of the entrance where the meeting room currently is.
Kirvelaitis said if a referendum passes, the library could issue bonds as early as February, start the project in the spring or summer and complete it in about a year.
Lemont resident Tom Culcasi said he would support a referendum but that the library needs to venture out to the public to give all of the details on the project.
"This will be decided by people in Starbucks and McDonald's – by people who have never been to a [library board] meeting," he said.
Lemont Public Library board president Vytenis Kirvelaitis said that 2.5 percent of the property tax bills go towards the library. Ninety percent of the library's budget comes from property taxes.