This month, New Jersey voters will decide whether to approve funding to finance capital projects at the state’s public libraries. The state has not approved new borrowing for library facilities for eight years.
As more fully discussed in a prior post, the proposed bond act authorizes the issuance of $125 million in State general obligation bonds to provide grants for the construction, expansion, and equipping of New Jersey’s public libraries. Pursuant to the proposed legislation, for any approved project financed by bond proceeds, the grant award will support 50 percent of the cost of the project. The local governing entity in the area served by the public library will support the remaining 50 percent of the cost of the project. As amended, the bill authorizes the local governing entity to solicit and receive grants and other funds from any private source to support its required share of the project.
The bond act also directs 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 also create a list of eligible projects.
In July, Gov. Christie signed PL 2017, c. 149, the “New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act.” The final step is for New Jersey voters to cast their ballots on Public Question 1, the “Bonds for Public Libraries Measure” in November.
The ballot question states:
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.
The interpretative statement states:
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.
For more information about the proposed bond act or the legal issues involved, we encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Government Law Group.