Director’s Corner December 14, 2015
Several individuals who have read the announcement of our becoming a district library in the recent newsletter have asked me what that means for the library and for the community. In truth, the community won’t notice much of a difference; many patrons were under the impression we were always a district library and were surprised to learn that until recently we were a village library.
In Illinois there are slightly different laws for village, city, township, county, or district public libraries. We are exchanging one set of laws for another that are similar but do have significant differences in how the business of the library is handled.
So regarding the business of the library, how about a quick lesson in funding a public library in Illinois?
The vast majority of the library’s revenue dollars come from property taxes. There is a scattershot array of other potential revenue sources allowed (including corporate replacement tax, interest, fines, non-resident fees, gifts, state per capita and other government grants, reimbursements for lost and damaged materials, service fees for such things as photocopies and room rental, sales of outdated equipment, and – theoretically – endowments and developers’ fees), but taken together these still account for less than 6% of our available revenue.
When the library levies taxes they have several categories where they can apply for funds. We have a General Operating fund, a Building and Maintenance fund, Social Security and Medicare, all forms of liability insurance, audit expenses, and IMRF Pensions (which the employees also contribute to).
This year the state legislature is making noises about instituting a tax freeze, even though property taxes are local taxes and have nothing to do with the state or its budget. Should they proceed with their tax freeze, they will not only be stopping any revenue increases in the coming year, but tax capped counties will never be able to compensate for those lost funds in future years, since tax increases will be held back by the annual percentage of the Consumer Price Index. So this tax freeze will more harshly affect local government entities. This also means that if the state passes a mandated wage increase, the library will have to raise wages without the ability to increase revenue to offset those wages.
And now that you know the basics of funding your public library, you can better understand why the library works so hard to retrieve the $60,000 – $100,000 in outstanding fines that we carry on our books.
See you at the library. – Kathy Berggren, Library Director