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City Council reviews plans for $20 million Bloomington Public Library expansion

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From Bloomington Public Library

BLOOMINGTON (WEEK) - Bloomington property owners learned Monday night how much they might end up paying for renovating the public library.

The library board president and library director displayed renovation designs and provided cost estimates during the council's committee-of-the-whole meeting.

The cost of library upgrades is estimated at almost $20.8 million, and $2 million more if the council decides to also build a parking deck. The city would borrow money over 20 years to fund its share of the project.

The owner of a $165,000 home would pay an extra $32.05 if the parking deck is included, and $29.14 more without the parking deck, based on current taxable land values in the city.

A majority of the elected leaders seemed enthusiastic about the plan, but council member Sheila Montney noted there are other spending priorities facing the city.

Council member Nick Becker said he felt better about the project after library leaders' presentation, but he too is concerned about cost.

Becker asked, "How are we cooperating with ISU's library, Wesleyan's library, Heartland's library? Are we doing this in a way that some of the efforts you're making are going to help them, and can we get contributions, maybe, from these other places so we can again offset the tax increase?"

Library improvements will help boost property values and broaden the tax base, said City Manager Tim Gleason.

The library has saved $4 million to help pay for the project, and the library is seeking $1.75 million in donations.

The library on Olive Street near Downtown Bloomington was built in 1976, and is considered too small to meet the needs of the city's current population.

A public hearing and action on the bond issue is expected in November with construction scheduled to start next April.

Howard Packowitz

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