Bloomington City Council moves forward with $22.8 million library expansion plan

Local News

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — A major renovation and addition to Bloomington’s public library is moving onto its next stages.

Monday night, Bloomington City Council pledged its support with a 7-2 vote on a $22.8 million project that expands and renovates the Bloomington Public Library building downtown.

To pay for this, the city plans on borrowing $17 million by selling bonds and paying back about $1 million of that annually over the next 20 years.

But to do this, city leaders have to raise property taxes on Bloomington residents. Staff estimated Monday that there would be a $30 increase in personal property taxes on someone living in an average-priced home, or roughly a $165,000 house.

Council discussed the motion for roughly 20 minutes, with most pledging their support for the project. Council members Jamie Mathy, Donna Boelen, Julie Emig, Molly Ward, Jeff Crabill, and Tom Crumpler all voted yes on the project moving forward. The two no votes came from Sheila Montney and Nick Becker.

Those who voted yes said it’s a long overdue project and the city can take advantage of low interest rates on the borrowed money.

Both Montney and Becker said the current library is suitable and the money should be spent elsewhere.

Jeanne Hamilton, the library director, said the expansion isn’t just a physical one but also expands the knowledge of many Bloomington residents.

“The library is really a great equalizer. We see people of all ages and backgrounds and interests coming into the library. It really offers the community a place to not only read but engage and learn new things,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said the expansion plans include more programming space for its kid’s programming–story-times and STEAM education; community rooms and meeting spaces, which Hamilton says will be home to GED courses in a partnership with local community colleges and a sensory room for children who have sensory issues.

The next stage of the project is the council’s vote on the tax levy, which is expected to take place at the Nov. 22 meeting.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest Local News

More Local News