Voters Face Library Referendum; Approval Means Spike in Taxes

Deerfield residents are being asked to approve a $13.7 million makeover for the 4-decade-old building.

Almost $14 million. That's the estimated cost to renovate the Deerfield Public Library. The money would go toward reorganizing, remodeling and expanding the current 40-year-old facility. The library already has $2 million earmarked for the project. 

Village public library officials have their fingers crossed voters will pass the proposal to issue an $11.7 million bond to fund the project at 920 Waukegan Rd. The  improvement plan proposes expanding the main and lower levels, adding a technology lab for instructions and installing self-check kiosks.

"If we fund now, it will actually cost less than if we wait," Library Board president Ken Abosch told residents at a public information meeting. "We can get the best value for our dollar by making improvements now."

Abosch and other board members are looking for the financial means to expand and modernize the library. After gathering community input and studying their options, board members voted in July to put the referendum on the ballot.

The referendum will cost the average Deerfield homeowner an additional $89 a year based on a $500,000 property evaluation. The average homeowner already pays about $290 a year in library operating property taxes. The total would be around $380 if the referendum's approved. The measure would add another library-related line to the property tax bill. The two would stay separate for the 20-year term of the special tax.

In the past Deerfield voters have been reluctant to provide a financial shot in the arm to the library. The community rejected a referendum in 2004 that asked for $26 million for a new building.

"This does not call for a new building," Abosch said at the meeting in defense of the bond measure. "We are not recycling the 2004 referendum proposal."

He told residents the improvements needed to be made, pointing out that the building is not compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act or local fire and other safety codes. Plus, there is limited space for studying and group meetings, Abosch said. 

"What happens if the referendum does not pass?" asked Deerfield resident Susan Fried at one of the public meetings.

"We would have to get together with financial advisers and figure out what problems we can still fix," said Abosch, who noted the current $2 million in the library reserve fund limits doing extensive renovations.

The library has been holding informational sessions for the public during the past few months to talk about the referendum.

Library Director Mary Pergander wants residents to "get informed and vote." However, she has braced herself for a ballot defeat, saying, "We will honor their decision either way."


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