On the last day it could have possibly acted, the Brookfield Village Board voted 5-0 to approve a referendum question for the Nov. 8 ballot, asking Brookfield residents to allow the library board to issue $10.3 million in bonds to build a new library facility.
Aug. 22 was the deadline for action by the village board, which was required to pass the ordinance because it serves as the corporate authority for the Brookfield Public Library, according to state statute.
The Brookfield Public Library, although it has its own governing board, is not a separate library district.
“The library couldn’t be happier to have the instrumental support of village officials, and we sincerely thank them for their work at last night’s meeting,” said Brookfield Public Library Director Kim Coughran in an email.
“We join our village partners in their outrage that 700 to 1,000 children and adults are denied access to library classes and events each year. The village’s belief of the library’s importance in a strong and rising community will go a long way toward delivering a much needed new facility that serves residents of every age, where no one is turned away.”
According to the ordinance passed by the village board at their meeting on Aug. 22, the new library will cost an estimated $14.5 million. The library board has $4.2 million in its cash reserves set aside for the construction of a new 32,000-square-foot facility to be located on land the library owns at 3541 Park Ave., across the street from the present library.
The library board had approved the referendum question back in June and had been waiting for final village action to make it a reality for the November ballot.
In June, library officials stated that the owner of a home valued at $200,000 would see an increase in property taxes of about $137 annually as the debt is repaid over the next 20 years. The owner of a home valued at $300,000 would pay an additional $201 per year in property taxes.
In May, the Illinois General Assembly passed a measure to allow the Brookfield Public Library to issue up to $11 million in debt without that debt counting against the village of Brookfield’s debt ceiling,
The village’s debt calculation also would include debt owed by the library, since the village serves as the library’s corporate authority. The legislation separating the library’s debt from the village’s debt ceiling was attached to an education-related bill passed by the General Assembly on May 31.
The bill was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Aug. 5.
The referendum question officially will ask: “Shall the village of Brookfield, Cook County, Illinois, erect a new public library building, furnish necessary equipment therefor and issue its bonds to the amount of not to exceed $10,300,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?”
Placing the question on the ballot caps a process that’s been in the works for more than four years. In the last two years, library officials have ramped up their efforts to educate residents on library programs and the lack of space to operate them in the present 13,000-square-foot building, which was built in the 1980s.
Ed. note: The story has been changed slightly to clarify that while future debt issued by the library would have counted against the village’s debt ceiling had the Illinois General Assembly not passed legislation allowing that debt not to count against the village’s debt ceiling, the library is not carrying any debt currently.