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Crundwell cash could fund fixes at Dixon Public Library

Council expected to vote Tuesday on spending $1.2 million

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 2:44 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 2:47 p.m. CDT

DIXON — The Dixon City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on using some of the Crundwell recovery money to repair Dixon Public Library.

The library approached the council last month and asked for a $1.2 million loan, to be paid back in $100,000 payments over 12 years. The money will be used to repair the roof, boiler and windows, and possibly remove asbestos, among other needs.

Instead, the council will vote on authorizing the use of up to $1.2 million of the remaining recovery funds to pay for the repairs, estimated to cost about $1.5 million, city officials say. The library will add about $300,000 it has collected through gifts to the library for the work.

About a year ago, the city received the bulk of $39.2 million from the settlement with its former auditors and bank and the sale of former Comptroller Rita Crundwell’s assets.

Crundwell was arrested in 2012 for stealing nearly $54 million from the city throughout two decades.

With the recovery money, the city has paid off some of its debt and placed money into reserves. It also used $1 million for the River Street sewer project, leaving about $11 million.

When the library approached the city in July about helping with the repairs, it was originally proposed the money be transferred as a loan and then “repaid” to the city with a proposed increase in the library’s share of the city tax rate and a decrease in the general fund’s share.

Because the library’s tax levy is administered through the city, Dixon would have been, in essence, lending money to itself, and the taxpayers would have seen no increase.

Mayor Jim Burke said using the recovery funds just is simpler.

“We looked at different alternatives, and we decided that the easiest thing to do was to pay it out of the recovery funds and be done with it,” he said. “When you get down to it, it’s all city business and city funds.”

Commissioner Dennis Considine agreed and added that spending the money on long overdue repairs to the library was a good use.

In the past four years, the library has repaired gutters and fixed drainage issues, Dixon Library board member Glen Hughes said at the July council meeting.

The work was done in an effort to “Band-Aid and patch ongoing deferred maintenance problems,” he said at the time.

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