Aracali Arellano, a Lake in the Hills resident, said she visits the Huntley Area Public Library, 11000 Ruth Road in Huntley, about once a week to pick up new books for her kids and is impressed by the numerous resources the building has to offer.
“My kids love it here,” Arellano said.
Therefore, Arellano does not feel that an estimated $60 annual increase on the library’s portion of her property tax bill was too steep a price to pay to see a larger library with greater opportunities.
With a little more than a week before April’s election, library director Frank Novak said public reception to a referendum requesting the issuance of $12.9 million in bonds to fund a massive library expansion has mostly been positive.
Novak and the library’s Vote Yes Committee have conducted a multipronged campaign to spread word about the 17,000-square-foot expansion through online promotion, yard signs and speeches throughout the library district.
“This is the first building program I’ve done where I’ve had this amount of positivity, and I’m so very encouraged by that, but again, we have to have people vote on April 2 or do early voting, because if they support it and don’t vote, it’s not necessarily going to happen,” Novak said.
The issued bond would be payable at 20 years and would not exceed the $12.9 million amount. For a home in the district valued at $231,100, the estimated annual property tax increase from the bond issuance would be $57.32, Novak said.
“We think that’s a very reasonable price for this building expansion because it’s not just the addition, but we’re also renovating the old building, too,” Novak said. “We’re trying to honor the taxpayer and have something that’s a price point that makes sense for our community.”
To offset potential declines in overall library usage, Novak said it is his hope to offer job training and digital creations projects using augmented reality, virtual reality, green-screen technology, podcasting, Adobe Creative Cloud, music production and other services.
“Of course, we’d still do traditional training that we do now, and that includes working with Microsoft Office Suite or Quickbooks training,” Novak said. “We would still do those, but we’d be able to ramp it up quite a bit from what we’re doing now with new digital facilities included in the addition.”
A proposed floor plan of the finished remodeling includes technology space and digital creation spaces, multifunctional programming rooms and small study rooms – which were one feature Arellano said she would like to see at the library.
Novak said the library outgrew its current space when it was built in the late 1990s because it preceded an influx of commercial development, such as the Sun City community and the Talamore subdivision development.
In November, a survey on the expansion was mailed to more than 14,000 residents with 1,602 residents responding. Of those, 71 percent of participants gave the library a grade of A or B, and 66 percent said they were in favor of the expansion.
However, the referendum is not without its detractors.
During a special meeting in January – where the library board agreed to put the measure on April’s ballot – Huntley resident Chris Yaeger said he was not in favor of a greater tax burden on residents, especially when there are talks in Springfield of additional tax increases.
The referendum is set to appear on the ballot for residents of the library district, which includes portions of McHenry and Kane counties, including portions of Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Algonquin, Union, Hampshire and surrounding areas. As of 2016, the library serves more than 39,000 residents, according to its website.