Library Board to ask for tax rate increase

By on October 16, 2009

by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—Now that the new library building is open, Sugar Grove Public Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes said she hopes residents will see more clearly how the lack of additional operating funds limits the services available, and how increasing those funds could positively impact what the library is able to offer.

The Library District Board decided last week to ask residents to approve a funding increase of 10 cents per $100,000 of assessed value during the next election in February 2010. If the referendum passes, this would bring the rate up to 20 cents for every $100 of a home’s assessed value.

With the election so early in the year, if the referendum passed, Kane County officials said the library could begin receiving that money in July 2010, the beginning of the library’s next fiscal year.

With the rejection of previous referendums to cover the increased operating costs for the new building, Hughes said the library has had to cut staffing time, which led to reduced hours and the elimination of programs for all but the youngest patrons.

The library also reduced the number of titles added to the collection, implemented shorter loan periods, increased fines, and asked patrons to pay for some services.

The Summer Reading Program was made possible through funding from the Library Friends. The computer lab, with its 17 computers and a variety of available classes, was made possible through a donation from the local Rich family.

Hughes said she has noted frustration on the part of patrons that the library is not open on Mondays, and when it closes early on Fridays and Saturdays.

If the referendum passes, library hours would increase from 41 to 61 hours, made possible with the ability to hire an additional three or four staff. Residents could see Monday hours again, as well as increased hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Depending on the results of a residents’ survey, Sunday could also be an option, Hughes said.

According to Hughes, early education remains the library’s major focus, with three Pee Wee Leagues (infant to 3 years reading programs) and four story-time sessions (3- to 5-year-olds) in operation.

“People can now fully grasp what it would mean to be open more hours,” Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes said. “We hope people will realize what we can offer them (with the additional funding). This is their opportunity.”

Finding additional revenue
SUGAR GROVE—With the opening of the new building, the library has taken some additional measures to increase its revenues above and beyond what it has asked from residents.

For example, the library has made available meeting room space to community organizations. For-profit organizations are charged a fee to rent them, and not-for-profit organizations are asked for a donation to help offset the cost of maintenance of the rooms.

Local Scouts groups, homeowners associations, the Economic Development Corporation and the Chamber of Commerce have taken the library up on its offer.

The Catering Gourmets, which operates the Book Nook Cafe in the front of the library building, leases the food concession from the library. The Library Friends has made good use of its space within the cafe to conduct fund-raising activities for the library, including the sale of donated books.

Since the library opened in August
• Issued a total of 1,400 new or long-expired library cards
• Same amount or increase in resident use each week since opening
• Average of 35 patrons per hour, with Saturday visits up to 59 per hour

Sugar Grove Library District Referendum
• Set for February 2010 election
• Asks for funding increase of 10 cents
per $100,000 of EAV
• Would mean total operating tax rate of
20 cents per $100 of EAV
• Impact on a $300, 000 home = $105 per year
• Library would begin receiving funds in July 2010

If the referendum passes
• Library hours would increase from 41 to 61
• Library would reopen on Mondays, and
increase hours on Fridays and Saturdays
• More programs
• Decreases in check-out line delays
• Decreases in the time a book is on hold
• Availability of more copies and a greater
variety of titles