Not much got accomplished in the final weekend of the state legislative session in Springfield. The now 11-month long state budget impasse was not resolved. A bill funding state aid to local school districts was not passed.
But one thing of local interest did get done. Just a half hour before the legislature adjourned at midnight on May 31, an amendment was attached to a bill that was originally intended to amend the way the state regulates an obscure program to award state global scholar certification to high school students.
That bill also will allow the Brookfield Public Library to borrow up to $11 million via a referendum without that amount being counted against the debt limit of the village of Brookfield.
The amendment was sought by the Brookfield Public Library officials as they prepare for a referendum expected this fall. In April, the library’s financial adviser said the library expects to seek voter approval to borrow about $10.3 million to build a new facility.
The amendment was sponsored by state Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) and state Sen. Steven Landek (D-Bridgeview), who both represent portions of Brookfield.
The amendment to the Illinois Local Library Act says a library that is part of a town government, as the Brookfield Library is, can borrow up to $11 million in a referendum without it being counted against the village’s cap on borrowing if the bonds are issued prior to Nov. 1, 2020.
That gives the library nearly four years to pass a referendum to build a new library.
“It was a nice chaser to kind of a rough session,” Zalewski said.
Zalewski and Landek said in a press release said that the bill will allow voters to choose whether to build a new library.
“The Brookfield library has been working to construct a new building for many years and they are ready to move forward with their plans,” Landek said in a press release issued by Zalewski Monday. “This bill gives them the opportunity to ask the voters for permission to finish their plans.”
Zalewski said much the same thing in the press release that echoed a major talking point of library staff and officials.
“Libraries provide a wide variety of both educational and recreational resources for our communities,” Zalewski said. “Brookfield has one of the smallest libraries despite serving the largest population in the area, and a larger building will allow the library to improve the resources they provide and better serve the community. This bill will allow the voters to choose to invest in these invaluable community resources.”
In the press release, Brookfield Library Board President Jennifer Perry thanked Zalewski and Landek for their work in getting the amendment passed.
“We cannot begin to express our thanks to Rep. Zalewski and Sen. Landek, as the library simply couldn’t have moved forward with its capital project plans and eventual referendum had it not been for their understanding of the library’s constraints,” Perry said in the press release.
Gov. Bruce Rauner has not yet signed the bill.
“It is under review,” said Catherine Kelly, Governor’s Rauner’s press secretary, in an email.
If Rauner signs the bill, the library board is expected to formally vote sometime this summer to put a referendum on the November ballot.