by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVEâ€”The Sugar Grove Public Library will go to voters for a tenth time to ask for an increase in the operating-tax rate to pay for the operation of the new building, which opened in August 2009.
Although voters approved the increase in funds in 2004 to build the building, they rejected a referendum nine times to increase funding for operating the new building. Library director Beverly Holmes Hughes said that the money from the building fund cannot be used for library operations.
The referendum, which will be on the ballot on Tuesday, Feb. 2, will ask library district residents for an increase in the tax rate of 10 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value. For a homeowner of a $300,000 home, this would mean an additional $105 per year in property taxes.
When the operating expenses referendum did not pass in November 2006, library hours were cut from 58 to 47 hours per week. Some of the children’s programs and all adult programs were suspended, due to staffing, scheduling and budget restraints.
According to a Kane County tax computation report from March 2009, the Sugar Grove Public Library’s operating rate is one of the lowest in Kane County. At 9 cents per $100 of assessed equalized value of a home, it is only higher than one library, Maple Park, which has a rate of 5 cents per $100. By contrast, Elburn’s Town and Country Publi Library’s operating rate is 21 cents per $100. (See below for more complete list)
When the new building opened, the library continued to offer programs for young children. Meeting rooms were available to the public in the new building, as well as the Book Nook Cafe with food and drinks from the owners of the Catering Gourmets. Additional computers, a gift from the Jerry Rich family, were made available for children and adults, as well as computer classes.
The lack of adequate staffing levels to run the new building led to the decision to cut hours back further, to 41 per week. The library was closed on Sundays and Mondays, as well as Friday and Saturday afternoons.
Board President Art Morrical said that if the referendum passes, the number of hours the library is open will be increased by at least 20 hours, the collection of books and magazines will be expanded, and more programs will be offered.
According to Library Board member Sabrina Malano, the increase in the hours would add a couple more evenings that the library would be open for students, as well as more weekend hours. The additional programs would target older children, such as middle-school students and teens, as well as adults.
â€œIf the referendum passes this time, patrons will see the value of their ‘yes’ vote right away,â€ Malano said.
Malano said that, because of the timing of this election, the money from the increase in the rate would become available to the library in July of this year.
â€œThey definitely would see an impact quickly,â€ she said.
Another failed referndum would mean that the library’s offerings remain the same.
â€œThere’s so much more we want to offer,â€ Malano said. â€œBut it’s really up to them (the district residents).â€