EL SEGUNDO — Voters here are being asked to decide whether the city should issue $3.25 million in general obligation bonds to finance renovation of the public library.
The City Council earlier this year decided to place the bond issue before the voters when the projected cost for improvements exceeded the $1 million that city officials had set aside for the project.
The measure, which will appear as Proposition L on Tuesday's ballot, calls for expanding the children's reading room, installing new air conditioning and book security systems and making the 38-year-old building earthquake-proof. The renovation would almost double the library's floor space and create a wing devoted to El Segundo history.
The library bonds would be paid back over 20 years, costing the average El Segundo resident $2.67 per year, city officials said.
A two-thirds vote is required to pass the measure.
Supporters say the expansion is necessary to relieve overcrowding and build the library's collection. Library records show that that 182,103 books, magazines, records and videocassettes were checked out in 1985, compared to 89,431 in 1975.
"The expansion is long overdue," said Rosemary Taylor, a reference librarian. "Our records show that demand has increased by 103%. We don't have enough seating space for the people who want to use the library for reading or studying."
But opponents say the City Council should dip into the city's $18-million reserve fund to finance the renovation.
"The library is not used nearly enough to fund a massive project like this," said Jimmie Corones, who has denounced the project at public hearings. "It's ridiculous that residents should have to pay for this expansion when the city is sitting on top of such a fat resreve fund."
City Manager Arthur E. Jones, however, said the city has to keep the reserves as a "security blanket" to offset a projected slowdown in the aerospace industry, falling oil prices and other factors that are expected to reduce sales and employee tax revenue for the city. City officials are currently searching for new sources of revenue--including a proposed sewer tax--to cover a projected deficit, Jones said.