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Voters deny St. Charles library expansion

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010 12:47 a.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES – Voters on Tuesday told the St. Charles Public Library they are not ready to support a tax hike so the 55,000-square-foot facility can nearly double in size.

With one Kane County precinct left to report Tuesday, the library’s request to issue $35 million in bonds to pay for the expansion and other improvements failed by about 1,000 votes. Unofficial results indicated 8,210 supported the proposition while 9,283 were against it.

The library’s request to increase the limiting rate by 0.023 percent to pay for the addition’s operating costs failed by an even greater margin, according to unofficial results with one unreported Kane County precinct. There were 6,750 votes for it and 10,334 votes against it.

Library Director Diana Brown said the results would likely be different if the economy was better.

“We realize that this really is a difficult time just for the nation and our community, too,” she said. “We think that a lot of people in our community share our desire for a new library but now is not the time.”

The Board of Trustees will likely discuss the referendum results in an upcoming meeting, Brown said.

She said the trustees will decide what to do next and whether they will pursue another referendum in the future.

“There are issues with the building, and we will be as creative as possible in how we address them,” Brown said, referring to a lack of space staff members have had to address in recent years.

The $35 million would have expanded the library to about 100,000 square feet that would include larger space for young adult services, family restrooms, a coffee and refreshment area, a permanent Friends of the Library book sale area and about 50 percent more space for books, DVDs and other collection materials.

Other proposed improvements included a larger parking lot, a new HVAC system and renovations to the existing structure, such as installing more windows.

Had both referendum questions been passed, taxpayers would have paid about $26.88 more a year per $100,000 of a home’s market value.

Brown said library officials are grateful to those who voted for and supported the referendums.

She thanked the Citizens in Support of the St. Charles Library Referenda, particularly its co-chairs Jon Duerr and Sue Doebler and treasurer Terry Berkhout.

Brown was with some of the trustees as the results came in Tuesday night. Brown, who said she didn’t have any expectations going into Election Day, said the mood was positive.

“I think people felt it had been a very positive effort,” she said, “and we were very proud of how it was managed.”

Unofficial numbers

Proposition to issue $35 million in bonds No    9,333  Yes    8,252

Proposition to increase the limiting rate No    10,391  Yes    6,781

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