Library News

Finance Committee delays library vote

By Stephanie Lulay slulay@stmedianetwork.com February 28, 2012

Updated: March 1, 2012

AURORA — While he said he’s supportive of the new downtown library, Finance Chairman Bob O’Connor delayed a vote to seek $30 million in bonds to construct a new downtown Aurora Public Library location.

O’Connor said he is hesitant to move forward while questions and concerns still exist. He said the library should have significant support from the entire City Council. The vote will hold for one month.

“You need to communicate why this is necessary to the entire library system,” O’Connor said.

Library Board President Jeffry Butler said he was disappointed with Tuesday’s outcome.

Eva Luckinbill, library executive director, said the 98,000-square-foot project has been downsized from original plans.

She said the new downtown facility will provide infrastructure for the entire library system, offer computer access and a meeting place to share ideas.

“We think it’s necessary for a vital downtown,” Luckinbill said.

She said the existing downtown library location is in great need of disrepair, lacks an adequate fire supression system and is not up to building or disability codes. She said the downtown library is visited by more than 500,000 people every year.

“We can’t do anything more with that building,” she said. “The most efficient way to do this is to build a new library location downtown.”

Brian Caputo, city finance director, said if the bonds are issued, residents with an $180,000 home would pay $26.40 per year for the library until 2041, but that factors in some debt service still existing from the Eola branch library.

Luckinbill said operational costs will not increase once the new location opens.

10th Ward Alderman Lynda Elmore said she has questions from citizens that she can’t answer about the project. She said the library has not addressed concerns about parking, steps at the new building and a technology plan.

“Why didn’t you listen? Nothing’s changed,��� Elmore said. “That’s the kind of feedback I’m getting. I’m being very honest with you.”

She said the Library Board needs to be mindful of what they’re asking the community to pay for in tough economic times.

“This isn’t the choice of buying a latte or building a new library. (For some), it’s a choice of feeding the children or building a library. The tax base isn’t $20 for all constituents,” she said.

She said taxpayers are also facing increases park and school district taxes.

Elmore said she recognizes the library needs a new building, but she said the people who support the new building aren’t the ones paying for it.

“The citizens of Aurora are,” she said. “I can tell you right now, we don’t have them on board.”

Luckinbill said the current draft is just a concept.

“These concepts are not finalized — they’ll have to be approved by the Library Board,” she said.

Elmore said the library needs to present plan changes in a written format.

“It’s like saying ‘trust me,’” she said.

Luckinbill said it’s impossible for the library to move forward with applying for grants or pay architects before the city’s on board with the project.

“We are pursuing things, but what we’re finding is we can’t get commitments until we get a commitment through the city,” she said.

Butler said the library will also kick off a capital campaign as soon as they get the go-ahead from the city. That money will be used against the cost of the library.

“Quite frankly, there is trust here,” Butler said. “But you’ll have final approval of the design.”

The library bonds will come up for vote at 3 p.m. March 27 at City Hall.

 

 

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