The Oak Park Public Library was supposed to make a $2.4 million debt payment on Nov. 1, the latest payment for the new library on Lake Street. But it can’t, because Cook County is dragging in issuing property tax bills for the second installment of 2009 taxes.

Back in 2001 and 2002, the village sold a $30 million bond to pay for the new library at 834 Lake St. Fast forward to today, and $10.3 million remains to be paid off on the debt, $2.4 million of which was due Nov. 1.

Under state statutes, the library cannot take out debt on its own. So, the village board had to give approval on Monday to refinance the debt. Oak Park is restructuring the loan so that the next payment is instead due on April 1. That gives the village flexibility, in case the first installment of 2010 property taxes, paid in 2011, are also late, said Craig Lesner, chief financial officer for the village.

Refinancing the bond, Lesner said, will save taxpayers about $350,000 over the life of the debt, which is to be paid off in April 2016.

Trustee Ray Johnson said it’s important to call out the “dysfunction” in the Cook County Board of Review, which is causing tax bills to arrive late, after the Nov. 2 election.

“There is a massive domino effect and cost to local governments that is being pushed upon us because of dysfunction of agencies like the board of review,” Johnson said.

Correction

In an Oct. 6 news story headlined “Late tax bills put Oak Park library in a bind,” we misstated why the library needed to refinance the debt taken on to build its new headquarters. The library could have made the $2.4 million debt payment that’s due on Nov. 1, according to Executive Director Dee Brennan. However, they refinanced the debt, pushing the due date to April 1, to save $350,000 while also creating more “predictability” in the future. “We were not in a bind,” Brennan said.

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