Village to library: set, collect your own taxes
Diane Comen, Head of Reference Services at the Glenview Public Library, looks for a book at the library Feb. 20. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
GLENVIEW — Expenditures are on the rise at Glenview Public Library, causing concern among village trustees who oversee the institution’s revenue-producing property tax levy.
According to a village report, actual and proposed library spending from 2011 to 2013 increased by $1.1 million, while revenues went up only $129,000 — showing a 17 percent increase in expenditures.
“We see a significant tax increase if this is not taken care of. The line of expenditures over revenues is increasing dramatically,” said Village President Kerry Cummings.
While village elected officials set the property tax levy every year, library trustees handle spending and budgeting.
Village trustees are considering several options to correct the predicted imbalance, such as converting the library into an independent taxing body.
On Dec. 4, attorney Scott Spears for the village outlined those conversion steps that trustees may take in the future.
For instance, the Library Board could adopt a resolution for converting and within 60 days the village must approve it.
Another method would be submitting the conversion to referendum and completing the change by court order within 30 days.
Spears also provided several budget considerations for the village should the library begin setting its own levy.
Under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, taxing bodies are restricted to an annual tax increase over the previous year of 5 percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less, plus an increase for new property.
Also, this year the village provided financial and public works services and other contracted services to the library for $136,000 and a similar sum is projected for 2013.
“The library could decide to continue to contract with the village for these services or seek another method of service delivery,” stated the village report.
Under the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, the village and library act as a single unit with a village employee handling all necessary forms for hiring, benefits, contribution refunds, pensions and life insurance.
A conversion would require the library to provide its own Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund program.
The library also could expand its district through a referendum to gain revenues by annexing property.
Before the new library opened in 2010, the village issued $26.3 million in bonds, but a conversion would not free the village of its indebtedness.
However, with a referendum the library could issue bonds to retire the village debt or the library could establish a tax rate to make debt service payments to the village.
Third, the village retains the debt and levies for it as part of the municipal property tax levy.
“With rights comes responsibility like approving a tax levy, but we can’t manage (the library’s) expenditures,” said Village Trustee Deborah Karton.
“To me, we’re trying to put these rights together with responsibility.”
After the Dec. 4 meeting, M. David Johnson, Library Board president, would not comment on the conversion suggestions, but added the matter could come up for discussion today (Thursday) at the Library Board meeting after press time.
Johnson said he requested a special meeting between library and village officials.
“We tried to schedule this meeting with the village, but it was unsuccessful,” he said.
The village report stated library expenditures had increased when the 2013 budget included proposed increases in staffing and in other areas, as well as a fund balance drawdown below library budget policy.