Proposed budget for McHenry library saves up for future repairs

McHENRY – With several projects wrapping up, the McHenry Public Library is focusing on saving to cover future repairs on the 40-plus-year-old building or perhaps the construction of a new building.

A tentative budget, which will be made public for 30 days ahead of a hearing, includes transferring as much as $800,000 to the capital fund to cover those future expenses.

Two projects that may get taken care of this fiscal year include a new circulation and checkout desk and recarpeting the upstairs administrative offices, which haven't had new carpeting since 1997, Executive Director Jim Scholtz said.

The focus, however, will be setting aside money for future repairs or renovations, he said.

"We keep doing maintenance, but our building still gets a year older," Scholtz said. "We may have something like the water main issue. I won't be surprised by something."

The library has wrapped up repairs related to a water main break that closed the library for nearly three weeks, according to an email from Scholtz. The repairs cost $150,000, but insurance will reimburse $93,000 of the cost.

The library also finished a reroofing project that totaled $392,000 and is set to begin work on a solar panel project that Scholtz estimates will pay for itself in at most five to seven years.

The library's Board of Trustees has decided it wants to evaluate whether the library needs a new building in five to seven years when it has a better idea of what libraries will look like and what the district has saved up, Scholtz said.

The proposed budget also includes a continuing shift toward electronic resources, Scholtz said.

The library recently entered into a contract with Midwest Video to provide the streaming service Hoopla, which would allow cardholders to access the service's 50,000 audiobooks, movies, TV shows and music items this fall, perhaps as early as mid-September.

The overall amount the library will spend on hardcover and paperback books is set to drop again this year with $5,000 less for adult books and $1,375 less for youth books, according to preliminary budget numbers.

Purchasing fewer specialty resource books, however, also has allowed the library to invest more in best-sellers, buying additional copies than it otherwise would have bought, Scholtz said.

The library's Board of Trustees also has approved a 3 percent cost-of-living increase for staff as part of the tentative budget.