LEMONT – In Tuesday's election, the Lemont Public Library will ask voters for $2.8 million for a building renovation project.
The project includes building and equipment updates and the addition of a meeting room as part of a reorganization of the library space.
Board President Vytenis Kirvelaitis has said the board does not have the reserves in its budget to pay for the project without bonds, even if it was just the necessary building and equipment updates that cost more than $500,000. He said the board does not levy much more than what is needed for operating costs each year.
"We do have some reserves, but they are nowhere near the amount needed," he said. "The philosophy of the board is not to accumulate a lot of extra money."
One of the main goals of the renovations is to create more meeting spaces for library and community programs. However, some residents questioned whether there is a need for more meeting space.
Both Patricia Grzyb and Jim Ladas said there are underutilized public meeting spaces in other community centers.
Library Director Sandy Pointon said that there is more demand for library meeting rooms than there is space available because the library offers space at little or no cost.
Board member Patricia Camalliere said that the board did not set out to add more meeting rooms but is responding to requests from the community of what they want.
Knowing that it would have to do some renovations, the board held public meetings earlier in the year asking patrons how they want the library to look in the future.
"This is the time if you want to change anything," Camalliere said.
Ladas, who is one of the more vocal opponents of the Village of Lemont's proposed sports complex project, also said that some residents may be against incurring any debt because of the stigma from that project.
Regardless of whether the Lemont Public Library's bond referendum passes, Lemont taxpayers will see the library portion of their property tax bills decrease starting in December 2016 after the current debt service is paid off. Here is an estimated breakdown of how the different tax bills look, based on the median home valued at $354,900:
2016 with new debt service: $223.58
2016 without debt service: $185.73