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correct size blogOn July 21, the Governor signed PL 2017, c. 149, the “New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act.”   This bill, upon voter approval, authorizes the issuance of $125,000,000 in general obligation bonds to finance capital projects at public libraries.    As a result, on Election Day, New Jersey voters will cast their ballots on Public Question 1, the “Bonds for Public Libraries Measure. “

 

Summary:

If approved by the voters:

  • the State Librarian, in consultation with the President of Thomas Edison State University, to establish eligibility criteria for the receipt of grants. The State Librarian, with the approval of the president, will prepare a list of eligible projects;
  •  for any approved project financed by bond proceeds, the grant award will support 50% of the cost of the project, and the appropriate local governing entity in the area served by the public library will support 50% of the cost of the project.
  • local governments are authorized to solicit and receive grants and other funds from any private source to support its required share of the project.

Background

The ballot question reads,

Do you approve the “New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act”? This bond act authorizes the State to issue bonds in the aggregate principal amount of $125 million. The proceeds of the bonds will be used to provide grants to public libraries. The grants will be used to build, equip, and expand public libraries to increase capacity and serve the public. A municipality or county that funds a public library would be required to match the grant amount.  The municipality or county may solicit private funding to support its match.

The interpretative statement reads,

Approval of this bond act will allow the State to sell $125 million in State general obligation bonds. Proceeds from the bonds will be used to provide grants to construct, expand, and equip public libraries. Municipalities or counties that fund public libraries will match the grant amount. The municipality or county may solicit private funding to support its match. The State Librarian, in consultation with the President of Thomas Edison State University, will set eligibility criteria for the grants.

The League’s Position

The League has joined the New Jersey Library Association in support of the enabling legislation, particularly since the funding must be approved by the voters.    This will allow, if the voters of the State agree, for much-needed funding to provide for the construction, reconstruction, development, extension, improvement, and furnishing of New Jersey’s public libraries. Specifically, for any approved project financed by bond proceeds, the grant award will support 50% of the cost of the project, and the appropriate local governing entity in the area served by the public library will support 50% of the cost of the project.

If approved this funding can address critical needs. Many public libraries in New Jersey are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Other facilities are simply outdated and cannot accommodate modern technologies. And by providing an appropriate revenue source, this funding will diminish the financial impact on the local governing entities.

We would recommend, particularly if your community’s library may benefit from this funding, to share this information with residents.

Other Stakeholders:  The New Jersey Library Association, http://www.njla.org/   & http://njlibrariesbuildcommunities.org/

For more: https://ballotpedia.org/New_Jersey_Public_Question_1,_Bonds_for_Public_Libraries_Measure_(2017)#cite_note-text-1

Contact:  

Michael F. Cerra, Asst. Executive Director, mcerra@njslom.org, 609-695-3481 x120.

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