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DeKalb library leaders detail funding, timeline for building expansion

Published: Friday, June 7, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – DeKalb Public Library leaders’ decision to renovate the current space while building a massive expansion won’t cost taxpayers any more money, library Director Dee Coover said Thursday.

For months, library leaders have been assembling a local match to secure a state construction grant. They pared back the $24 million plan by deciding to postpone renovations to the existing 83-year-old Haish Memorial Library, 309 Oak St. But they recently added those renovations back into the project after state officials offered more grant money.

“The possibility was out there that the new building would get done, but the old building would have not been renovated [until later],” Coover said. “It was always the original plan. It hasn’t grown at all.”

The decision means the project’s total cost will increase from $20 million to $24 million. The state grant has grown more than $3 million from $8.5 million to $11.6 million; local bank loans repaid through philanthropy will cover the rest of the cost increase.

Under both plans, DeKalb residents will see an 8-cent property tax rate increase because the city is borrowing $6.5 million to help pay for the expansion. The property tax increase will cost the owner of a house with an assessed value of $150,000 who claims the homestead exemption about $35 a year.

Under the most recent plan, the library plans to borrow $2.8 million from local banks at 3.25 percent interest, but Coover is confident library supporters will raise more than enough money to repay that money. If they don’t, the loan payments will come from the library’s operational funds, not a tax increase, Coover said.

“I am absolutely confident we’ll raise the money for it, but I am budgeting for it,” Coover said.

Coover and board President Clark Neher said the library has raised $1 million already, although most of that is in the form of pledges. Neher said they haven’t flexed their fundraising muscles yet.

“We’ve been doing [fundraising] almost informally,” Neher said.

Coover said she expects to have all of the money for the local match in the bank by June 18, and have the contract signed with the state by the June 30 deadline.

After the contract is signed, library officials have 140 days – or until mid-November – to begin construction. Construction of the parking lot south of Oak Street is scheduled to begin Sept. 9 and be finished by Nov. 29.

Work on the 46,000-square-foot extension is not scheduled to start until March 31, with the building being finished and opened to the public by July 17, 2015. Renovations to the current building would begin after the extension is finished. The entire project will be done by March 4, 2016.

The $3.1 million in additional state grant money became available after voters rejected Oregon Public Library’s referendum in the April election, which meant the Oregon Public Library couldn’t provide the local match for a construction grant.

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