|1) Why should New Jersey voters vote YES for the Library Construction Bond Act in the November 7 general election?
New Jersey’s public libraries serve an invaluable role for its citizenry. Construction funding for New Jersey’s public libraries would provide three types of return on investment:
A) Much needed community infrastructure repairs and updates to library facilities, including bringing buildings to ADA compliance, with costs shared with the State and not dependent solely on local property taxes
B) Improved and updated community spaces that serve, educate and welcome all residents
C) Economic development through the creation of jobs for tradespeople and revenues for small businesses
2) What is a bond referendum?
A bond referendum is a vote by the general public to authorize the State of New Jersey to issue bonds to generate revenue for a specific project. If voters approve the New Jersey Construction Bond Act the State will issue bonds up to $125 million. The proceeds of the bond sales will be used to provide grants to public libraries for construction projects including repairs and renovations. The State will repay the bonds at a low interest rate over a period of up to 35 years. The construction bonds are repaid out of state revenues and are not paid through local property taxes.
3) What will the wording look like on the ballot?
NEW JERSEY LIBRARY CONSTRUCTION BOND ACT
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.
INTERPRETIVE STATEMENT 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.
4) If the bond passes, what could the funds be used for?
Proceeds from the bonds will be used to provide grants to construct, expand, and equip public libraries. As defined in the law, “construct” and “construction” mean the planning, erecting, altering, expanding, repairing, purchasing, acquiring, improving, developing, constructing, reconstructing, extending, rehabilitating, renovating, upgrading, demolishing, and equipping of public libraries.
Construction Bond grants can fund projects of new construction as well as projects for repairs, rehabilitation, ADA compliance improvements, technology infrastructure such as cabling and the acquisition of additional and upgraded equipment for existing public libraries.
5) What are potential sources for required matching funds necessary to be awarded a library construction bond grant?
Potential sources include a commitment of capital funding from the local governing entity through tax revenue or debt service, funds held by Library Boards for capital projects and funds obtained through donations or fundraising. For any approved project, the law requires the grant award shall support 50% of the cost of the project and the appropriate local governing entity in the area served by the public library shall support 50% of the cost of the project. The local governing entity may solicit and receive grants and other funds from any private source to support its required share of the project.
6) Is the State Library working on the Bond regulations? Will these regulations be available prior to the referendum?
Per the Construction Bond Act: The State Librarian, with the approval of the President of Thomas Edison State University, shall adopt, pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this act.
Per the State Librarian: The NJSL is working on rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this act. The State Librarian and team are reviewing the rules and regulations used to implement the provisions of the earlier NJ Library Construction Bond Act. They are assessing necessary and desirable adjustments based on the provisions of this new act and referendum.
6A) Who will serve on the Public Library Construction Advisory Board?
Per the State Librarian: The current act does not reference any advisory board, this process was utilized in the prior program and is being considered.
7) What can libraries, library staff and advocates be doing now?
A) Thank your legislators who sponsored A222/S2171 and voted for the Library Construction Bond Act
B) Thank Library Boards and Councils who passed resolutions in support of the Construction Bond bills
C) Inform friends, family and the community about the public question on this state-wide ballot
D) Ensure key local stakeholders and decision makers are aware of the opportunity for grant funding
E) Work with Library Administration and Trustees to set the groundwork for defining potential projects
F) Libraries considering construction projects can share their needs and goals with their community