Bloomington Council approves library tax levy for expansion project

Local News

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Taxes are on the rise for Bloomington residents in order to fund a new library expansion.

Monday night, the council approved a $5,867,785 levy for the library; which is an 18.12% increase from last year’s tax levy.

Thanks to a $5.68 million Public Library Construction Act Grant from the Illinois State Library for the expansion and renovation project; the levy was lower than initially estimated by city staff at November’s council meetings.

The vote on Monday was 6-3 and with the levy now approved, planning and other facets of the $22.8 million project can begin.

The $22.8 million would be the library’s first major expansion since it was built in the 1970s. At the time, the city’s population was around 40,000 people. Now, the city’s population has doubled to nearly 80,000 residents.

Some major highlights of the project include individual study sessions, group meeting rooms, and access to new technologies–including a recording studio for podcasts and music.

Julian Westerhout, President of the BPL’s board of trustees, said the definition and resources at and of a public library are changing with time and Bloomington’s library lags behind others in the area.

“For people to be full functioning citizens, to have the ability to realize their potential in life, they need to have access to more than just ink on paper and so having that flexibility to incorporate that new technology, incorporate new techniques is key and vital for the city and its population,” Westerhout said.

The rest of the project would be paid for by the City of Bloomington, which would borrow $14.2 million in bonds. Which would be paid off over 20 years at $850,000 per year.

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