21 Aug 2014
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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.

Library Board Says No Drastic Tax Increase Expected Library Board Says No Drastic Tax Increase Expected

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.

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