The River Forest village board on Monday unanimously approved a request by the River Forest Library Board to issue $510,000 in Limited Tax Bonds for various capital improvements at the library. Scheduled work includes roof repair, phone system replacement, and renovation of the teen and children's library.
According to figures released by Village Administrator Charles Biondo, the bond issue would raise tax rates a maximum of .16 percent, or about $18 per year on a house with a $10,950 tax bill.
When library board members formally presented their request to the village board last month they stressed that most of the funds would go toward long deferred capital improvements and maintenance, and village board members queried Library Board President Molly Ryan Monday evening specifically about the library's long range fiscal plans. In general, the village board seemed supportive of the library's request, though Trustee Al Swanson expressed concern that the library had not set aside funds in the past to allow for needed repairs and upgrades.
"What plans does the library board have to build capital into its budget so it doesn't come up again?" asked Swanson.
Ryan responded that the library board has developed a budget forecasting process that looks at needs "ten years out."
"Can we rest assured that next year's budget will include funds for capital improvements," asked village president Frank Paris.
"Yes," replied Ryan.
The library had argued that issuing bonds would serve as a stop gap measure that would allow them to put off going to the voters for a tax referendum until the end of the decade, and Ryan reiterated that point Monday night, saying, "The benefit of giving us these bonds at this time is that we'll be able to delay a referendum until 2009 or 2010."
Addressing the issue of fiscal flexibility, Biondo said that the bond's 12 year length of maturity would allow the village to continue issuing debt should the need arise over the next ten years.
"This maturity level gives us the greatest flexibility to issue additional debt if needed," said Biondo.
Ryan called the current process a transition "from a cherished past to an exciting future," and expressed relief and satisfaction after the meeting.
"I'm thrilled," she said of the 5-0 vote to approve the bond issuance. "It's an important transition for the library. These are badly needed funds that will help us make that transition."