Library Referendum Seeks Funds for Improvements

Indian Trails' proposed tax levy hike would replace construction bonds, which will be retired next year.

officials are asking voters to approve a referendum so it can offer library users more services.

Voters will be asked on April 5 to approve an increase in the library’s tax levy. But because the increase would coincide with the retirement of bond debt, officials say a successful referendum would require taxpayers to pay no more than they already do to the library.

Library leaders say the new revenue would help them the library meet the needs of its patrons. In surveys conducted last year, library users asked for more space for activities, designated spaces for quiet work and enhanced programming, among other improvements.

Homeowners in both Cook and Lake counties would pay an estimated additional $8.76 per $100,000 of assessed home value if the referendum is approved; they are now paying same amount toward the bonds that were issued following the 1996 referendum for library expansion.

The bonds will be paid off in 2012, meaning that tax dollars paid to the library will hold steady if the referendum is approved, and will decline if the referendum is rejected.

A successful referendum would mean “a huge increase for library services, but no increase in the total tax bills,” said Earl Sabes, a longtime library trustee who recently stepped down from the board to assume a role as the library’s public relations manager. “If it fails, the tax bill [for the average homeowner] will go down $20 or $30, and all of those services won’t happen.”

If the increased tax levy is approved, the library will receive an additional $425,000 to $450,000 per year, Sabes said.

The money would be used to implement a slew of improvements, including the construction of a larger programming room, handicapped accessible facilities, additional parking, new spaces for activities and learning for children of all ages, an expanded video collection, more comfortable seating throughout the building, and new enclosed areas for use as small meeting rooms or quiet work spaces.

"One of the things surprising is nobody said, 'We want more books,'" Sabes said. “As the library grows, it becomes more of a noisy place. A lot of libraries are actually adding areas where the kids can play computer games. They’re a real magnet, and while they’re here, they do productive things.”

Indian Trails last went to referendum in 2002, when voters approved a request for additional operating revenue. The library remains fiscally sound on its $6.1 million 2010-11 budget, Sabes said.

“I think with the condition the library is in now, we could go several years without needing an increase, but [without approval of April’s referendum] we can’t provide these services,” he said.


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