Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Preliminary Financing Plan Presented

The Board of Trustees received the preliminary financing plan for the the proposed expansion. This initial estimate places the cost of the plan at approximately $14 a month for the average homeowner in the district. For this amount, you will receive:
  • nearly quadruple the square footage of library space (100,000 sq ft from 27,000 sq ft)
  • double the collection
  • just under double the staff
  • more than double the computers for public use
  • quadruple the computer classroom space
  • quadruple the space for children's programming
  • an auditorium for cultural and community programming and events

This will be accomplished by an addition to and renovation of the existing downtown library to 70,000 sq ft and building a branch library, in the northern end of the district, of 30,000 sq ft. ***Of course, the plan will not be final until late January, so the numbers may change a bit before it is finalized.***

In evaluating this preliminary plan, the library's financial consultant and I compared it to other libraries in Illinois. The comparisons demonstrate that the square footage for population served, operating budget for square footage planned, and tax rate for similar district all are in line with the average in the state.

Following the presentation of this plan, the Trustees debated extensively on the current economic situation and wisdom of placing the library expansion referendum on the ballot in April 2009. On one hand, the Trustees waited for as long as possible before beginning the expansion planning process by doing interior renovations paid by developer fees and creating and Outreach Services department that provides library programs and services outside of the library building. On the other hand, many of our neighbors may be feeling the crunch of this economic crisis, to the point that even $14 a month is too much to ask. Striving to be good stewards of your tax dollars, the Trustees ensured the library "made do" for as long as possible, giving the best possible service with what the community provided. The need that led to this planning process has not changed. If anything, libraries are busier than ever in a recession.

The Board of Trustees decided to ask you if the plan should be on the April 2009 ballot. Staff is working with a company to poll a random sample of registered voters in the district on whether or not the question should be placed on the ballot in the spring. I'll post more about the poll as information becomes available.

No comments: