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Questions surround addition to DeKalb library

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – Despite their concerns about fundraising, DeKalb aldermen renewed their commitment to the library’s planned expansion.

Still unknown is whether the city would be on the hook for the library borrowing $6 million from local banks. The library needs to have $15.5 million in the bank by June 30 so it can use an $8.5 million grant from the state to build a 47,000-square-foot addition to the library.

Library Director Dee Coover said she will have more information about the private loan by March 25. She currently is talking with Castle Bank, National Bank & Trust and Resource Bank.

“We’re moving as expeditiously as we can, but the banks have to do due diligence and so do we,” Coover said.

Library officials plan to borrow the $6 million because they don’t believe they can raise that money through private donations by June 30. Instead, the fundraising campaign would go to paying off the loan over a certain period of time.

Coover described the situation as fluid. How long the library has to pay back the loan, what the interest rate would be, and whether the city – as the library’s corporate authority – would be held liable if the library cannot pay the loan has not been set, Coover said.

“What’s set in stone is the need,” Coover said. “The need is there. We have the opportunity to use $8.5 million which to everyone’s best guess is a one-time deal.”

Library officials already have petitioned the city council to borrow $7.5 million to contribute to the project. With the city chipping in another $1 million in tax increment financing and the library paying $1 million in its own reserves, DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen said reaffirmed his support.

“I think for us to have an opportunity to bring in a $24 million project for only $9 million is phenomenal,” Povlsen said.

Other DeKalb aldermen expressed similar sentiments, although they all said they want to know if the city’s finances could be affected by the library’s borrowing.

“We need to see those things,” said David Jacobson, 1st Ward alderman and a mayoral candidate. “It’s the $6 million question – how, where are we going to pay for that? I have some worries that it’s going to fall on the taxpayers.”

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