City-funded library renovation under way
Jose Mendez works on remodeling the Highland Park Public Library on Nov. 30. Remodeling of the adult services room and lower level entrance, which started in October, is expected to continue into January. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 6, 2012 4:08PM
HIGHLAND PARK — The Highland Park Public Library is undergoing a renovation that will modernize and improve the usefulness of the adult services wing.
When the renovations are complete, the adult services section will include glass-enclosed study rooms, computer laboratories and a digital media laboratory that includes a green screen for recording images that can be imposed on other backgrounds.
At budget time last year, the Highland Park City Council agreed to finance the $1.3 million renovation.
But council members — averse to any increase in property taxes — took a stern view of the library board’s request this fall for an 11 percent increase in property taxes. The library accounts for about 2.4 percent of the total tax bill of most Highland Park residents.
The library board asked for the larger-than-usual increase to pay for some new reference materials and begin building a capital reserve fund to finance future maintenance and improvements.
Before approving the City of Highland Park budget on Nov. 26, the council decided to kick in some extra city funds in lieu of a library tax increase.
To find the funds in the city budget, the council chipped away at some other line items. Moreover, the council decided to begin drawing down reserves in the city’s general fund. Those reserves have grown to 65 percent of annual general fund spending, far in excess of the 35 percent that auditors deem sufficient.