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Library Board Says No Drastic Tax Increase Expected

The Evanston library board explained their new funding model at a public forum on Wednesday night.

Representatives from the Evanston Library Board of Trustees said Wednesday that they will avoid hiking taxes under the new library fund model. 

The funding model allows the board to set the library tax rate up to a certain amount and determine the use for the money based on budget priorities. Skokie, Arlington Heights, Deerfield, Highland Park and Naperville all use the library fund model.

Board member Diane Allen-Jacobi said that a 10 percent increase in the current library budget would range from $1.98 for a $1,000 property tax bill to nearly $18 for a $9,000 tax bill.  She said the board has no intention of drastically increasing taxes.

"Do not fall prey to somebody telling you that we're going to raise the taxes," she said. "We will do the appropriate thing."

However, some residents are concerned that the board, which is not an elected body, will have no oversight and not act in the interest of taxpayers.

A few residents spoke out about the library fund at a sparsely attended public funding forum, which was held at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Auditorium on Foster Street.  

Resident Terry Wodder said he was concerned about the lack of oversight of the board.

"I know that you're all good intentioned," said Wodder, "It's often tempting to just spend that little extra money, and it all adds up, unfortunately."

In early August, board members invoked a state law and voted to create the library fund.  The move gave them the ability to levy a tax, rather than working within a budget determined by the City Council, which proposed branch closings and reductions in funding.

Alderman Jane Grover (7th Ward) said she thought the board might not be held fully accountable for spending since its members were appointed rather than elected.

In early August, board members invoked a state law and voted to create the library fund.  The move gave them the ability to levy a tax, rather than working within a budget determined by the City Council, which proposed branch closings and reductions in funding.

Board members contend they do their best to act with the taxpayers' interest in mind. They also acknowledge the frustration of seeking public input, noting how few people have attended their public meetings.

"See how many people are here? Not many," said Allen-Jacobi.  "We've tried every way that we can to get people to try to hear us."

"We believe we are trying to do what is best for every citizen," she said.

Library board meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month in the Library Board Room.

Don D. June 17, 2011 at 12:58 PM
"Do not fall prey to somebody telling you that we're going to raise the taxes," she said. "We will do the appropriate thing." Anyone that can tax without consequences, will.
lucas February 14, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Since the Library Board is asking for a separate line item on the property tax bill. WHAT WILL THE TOTAL ABMOUNT OF THAT TAX BE FOR A CURRENT $9000 TAC BILL. IS THE CITY GOING TO REDUCE THERE TAXES BY THAT AMOUNT?
Jordan Graham February 14, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Hi Lucas, The library is merely taking over the responsibility for bringing in the money required for its operation. Previously, this responsibility belonged to the City of Evanston, which would have to allocate income it received from property taxes to fund the library. Though this was not called a library tax levy at the time, and was simply a portion of the city's larger budget, the library's FY2011 budget expressed as a levy would have been roughly .128 percent, equal to about $116 on the property tax bill of a $300,000 Evanston home. For the 2012 budget, the library essentially raised this amount 6.1 percent (not percentage points) and will collect around $122.96 on the property tax bill of a $300,000 Evanston home. After last night, the library can raise their levy rate as high as .23 percent, nearly double what it is now. However, last year, when the board thought it was planning to switch to the library fund model, it did not abuse this power and kept the levy rate comparable to what it had been (or to that equivalent). So you will not have to pay an extra $122 or so for the library. Likely you'll only have to pay a few more dollars.
lucas February 14, 2012 at 07:32 PM
sounds a bit like the way people in a couple burbs around Evanston got low balled with tax referendums last year. Arictle in pioneerlocal 12/1/2011. Perhaps instead of increasing taxes charge user fee.

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