The final number: $10.3 million.

That is the amount, or perhaps a little less, that the Brookfield Public Library Board of Trustees is expected to ask voters to let it borrow to build a new library. A referendum is expected to be placed on the November general election ballot, although library board President Jennifer Perry insists that no final decision has been made on when to have a referendum. 

“We’ve not decided yet,” Perry said. “We said we would decide this summer and, as far as I know, it’s not summer yet. We really haven’t completely decided yet. We’re still talking; there are still things we’re working on.” 

Perry said that the library board would decide in June or July whether to place a referendum question on the November ballot. She said the state’s budget crisis could affect the library’s board’s decision on when to seek a referendum.

The library board is hoping that the state legislature passes a special bill that would separate the library’s debt from the village’s debt limit to make sure that the library’s borrowing would not affect the village. 

“It separates the two so that the library can move forward with the project, but also so that the library’s initiatives don’t interfere with village’s ability to accomplish their projects,” said Kimberly Coughran, the director of the Brookfield Public Library.

On April 19 the library’s Place 2016 group held its fourth and final community engagement session and detailed the funding of a new library.

According to the library’s financial advisor, a new building would cost around $14.5 million to build. The library has saved $4.2 million in a special reserve fund to use toward a new building. 

The library has generated an annual budget surplus of about $450,000 a year, so the library could use some of that and perhaps reduce the amount that it needs to borrow. Perry said the library board would likely ask voters to let it borrow between $10 and $10.3 million.

“The numbers we offered were conservative,” Perry said. “We want to make sure we’re covered.”

At the presentation last week, the library’s financial advisor said that if a $10.3 referendum was approved, the owner of a home worth $200,000 would see a $131 increase in his or her property tax bill. The owner of a home worth $300,000 would face an increase of $196. The owner of a home worth $100,000 would pay $65 more in property taxes to the library.

Those estimates are based on an increase of 24 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation in the library’s property tax rate property tax rate. About 30 to 40 people attended the forum last week according to Coughran.

Plans for a nearly 32,000-square-foot library were approved by the Brookfield Village Board in March. The existing library is about 13,000 square feet. The library has four years, with the possibility of a one-year extension, to obtain building permits.

A political action committee formed in 2014 to advocate for a new library, called Growing Your Library has $9,189.98 in the bank. All of the money in the committee’s fund has been contributed by the Friends of the Brookfield Public Library. 

On May 14, 2015 the Friends contributed $4,240 to the committee.

Perry said that the whole process to try to get a new library building has not been easy. 

“I wish it was a lot easier and less complicated,” Perry said. “Believe me, this has taken a lot longer and been way more complicated than I thought.”

The library board unveiled its initial plans for a new library in April 2012, but it had been planning for a new building as far back as 2007, when the board announced its intentions to purchase properties in the Hollywood section of Brookfield, on Arden Avenue south of Washington Avenue.

After failing to acquire all of the property it needed, the library board abandoned that plan later that year.

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