Local

$12.9M bond issuance for Huntley library expansion to appear on April ballot

Funds would go toward expansion of library

The Huntley Area Public Library District board reviews agenda items during a special meeting Thursday.
The Huntley Area Public Library District board reviews agenda items during a special meeting Thursday.

A proposal to issue $12.9 million in bonds to build an estimated 17,000-square-foot expansion and remodel of the Huntley Area Public Library will appear on the ballot during April’s consolidated election.

If a majority of voters are in favor of the measure, which unanimously was approved by the library district’s board Thursday, the bonds would retire in 20 years. Estimated annual property tax increases from the bond issuance would range from $42.23 for the owner of a $175,000 home to $75.86 for the owner of a $300,000 home, according to district documents.

Huntley resident Chris Yaeger said during the public comment portion of the meeting that with the state of Illinois’ declining population, $130 billion pension debt and talks of gas and property tax increases, he doesn’t agree with issuing bonds and potentially creating a greater tax burden for residents.

“I don’t feel it’s something that is needed, and quite frankly, [it’s] a waste of money,” Yaeger said.

He also questioned the need for an expansion when use of libraries is declining.

Library director Frank Novak said it might appear that library use is on the downturn under traditional measurements, but digital services and new technology have changed the way people interact with their local libraries.

“I think things have shifted over time in how the library has been used by the public,” Novak said. “So when you go back and look at those traditional measurements, it looks like utilization is down, but when you come in here after school, it’s busy, and it’s being used.”

The $12.8 million construction costs for the estimated 31,800-square-foot design puts the cost per square foot at about $366, according to a draft plan for the project.

Novak said some might see about $125 a square foot as an average cost, but the project’s price factors in future increases in bond costs, the addition of furniture and prevailing wage costs. He said the library outgrew its current space when it was built in the late 1990s, as it preceded an influx in commercial development.

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