New Jersey voters will decide in November whether to borrow more than $100 million for library capital projects throughout the Garden State.
Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation last week authorizing a library bond referendum for the Nov. 7 ballot. If approved, the state will receive authorization to issue $125 million of general obligation bonds to provide grants for the construction, expansion and upgrades to New Jersey’s public libraries.
“Putting this on the ballot allows the public to decide on how their taxpayer dollars are being spent, which is exactly the way it should be done,” said State Sen. Christopher Bateman, R-Neshanic Station, who sponsored the New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act bill. “I have no doubt that people will rise up to support their local library in November.”
Grants in the bond measure would cover 50% of the costs of constructing or upgrading individual libraries with local governments chipping for the remaining half. Debt authorized under the act would be serial or term bonds that would mature and be paid no later than 35 years from date of issuance.
“Many public libraries in New Jersey are simply outdated and cannot accommodate modern technologies,” Michael Cerra, assistant executive director for the New Jersey League of Municipalities, said in a statement. “The NJ Library Construction Bond Act, if approved by voters, will provide an appropriate revenue source and thus diminish the financial impact on local governments.”
The New Jersey library bond referendum arrives at a time when the state is saddled with the second worse credit rating of the U.S. states due largely to underfunded pensions. The state’s GO bonds are rated A3 by Moody’s Investors Service, A-minus by S&P Global Ratings and A by Fitch Ratings and Kroll Bond Rating Agency.