Facts Relating to the Library Expansion Price Tag

DeKalb Public Library has finally shared with the Daily Chronicle the expected full cost of its expansion plan: $24 million.

This is amazing to me. I was there a few weeks ago and director Dee Coover told me the board had cut back the expansion plan by one-third to adjust to lowered population projections. Does this mean the original price tag was $36 million, or that the price tag is the same, with one-third less space but more bells and whistles?

At any rate, we do have some facts to chew on:

  • The estimated cost is twice that of DeKalb’s new police station.

  • Our neighbor Aurora approved an expansion plan for its library system last year that cost $30 million — but Aurora is five times the size of DeKalb and has two branches and a bookmobile.

  • The state grant of $8.5 million covers a little less than 65% of eligible construction costs, meaning DeKalb’s eligible costs come to about $13 million. It also means that up to $11 million of the total cost comprises extras not allowable under the grant program.

For these reasons, my earlier dubbing of the expansion proposal as the “Taj-Mah Library” still stands. Especially as DeKalb is becoming smaller and poorer.

The facts also don’t help to quell very serious doubts — from both fiscal and legal standpoints — that the city should not be issuing bonds on behalf of DKPL.

That’s not to say I’m anti-expansion. I’m not, and in fact I’m generally not strictly anti-anything except for “ends-justify-the-means” excuses, entitlement mentality, illegality, incompetence, lying and other sins and failures of public morality.