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The city of San Diego should consider taking out loans to completely fund the construction of the long-delayed downtown library, the county grand jury has said.

The panel said in a seven-page report that the current flagship library is obsolete because it features antiquated amenities and is too small for a big city. As a result, the city should borrow to make up the $97 million that is still needed to build the 366,000 square-foot facility, which is estimated to cost $200 million

Here is the grand jury’s full recommendation:

Consider a bond issue to completely fund the construction of the proposed main library. This would encourage personal loans to keep library construction on track. The loans could be repaid following the passage of the bond. Should the Bond fail, the loans would be considered contributions.

The city hasn’t borrowed on public markets since its exile from Wall Street in 2004 and has instead chosen to only borrow sparingly in private markets. The city is hoping to regain its financial standing so that it can borrow on the public markets, where loans are cheaper, by the end of summer.

When the library was originally approved by the City Council in 2002, officials estimated it would open in 2008. But the city’s financial problems and its inability to attract private donors, who will be expected to foot a large portion of the bill, have shelved the city’s plan for the library.

You can read the grand jury’s report here.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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