On November 7th the residents of New Jersey will vote on the NJ Library Construction Bond Act. The bond, if passed, would provide $125 million in funding for library construction projects throughout New Jersey. The program will be a 1:1 match of state and local dollars. The goals of the bond act are to upgrade public library facilities to meet community needs and to strengthen New Jersey’s economy by creating jobs opportunities for New Jersey businesses.
This funding will:
- Provide much needed community infrastructure repairs and updates to library facilities, including bringing libraries into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, renovating library facilities, and providing technology upgrades.
- Cost sharing program with state funds so construction projects are not dependent solely on local property taxes.
- Creates opportunites to invest in the New Jersey workforce and local businesses through jobs, construction, and economic development.
This legislation was passed with strong bipartisan support in both the NJ General Assembly and the NJ Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Christie in July. It asks that the voters approve the state expenditure of funds with a ballot question on November 7.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Where can I find the complete text of the NJ Library Construction Bond Act and other related information?
The text and legislative history of the NJ Library Construction Bond Act can be found on the New Jersey State Legislature website at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillView.asp?BillNumber=A222.