A tax referendum on the Nov. 7 ballot that would nearly double the operating budget of the village’s public library is the subject of a series of meetings this month.
Library Director Rodger Brayden met recently with a group of residents to discuss a proposed tax increase that he expects will bring in some $500,000 annually over the next four years. The annual operating budget for the library is roughly $700,000.
“There’s no shortage of uses,” Brayden said of the revenue projections. “We would want to be careful not to go on a spree, but we don’t want to sit on it either.”
If the referendum is approved, Brayden said the next budgeting cycle will determine exactly how the funds are spent, but several priorities are clear. An extra $140,000 per year would likely be needed to increase staffing levels, Brayden said, and another $20,000 would be used to bolster the facility’s collection.
Of the approximately 25 employees at the Forest Park Public Library, only six are full-time, Brayden said. Several part-time employees would be offered full-time positions and additional hires would be made, if the referendum is approved.
Dolores “Hope” Simon of the group, Citizens United in Forest Park, attended a meeting where Brayden outlined the library’s request. Simon said she would like more information, but generally supports the idea.
“I’m all for improvement,” Simon said. “I realize the library does need this.”
Simon has volunteered at the library to read to the blind and said she frequently checks out items for herself.
Cecile Webster, another member of CUinFP said that although the referendum would result in a tax increase, the issue can’t be decided solely on financial considerations. She too, said the referendum will likely get her vote.
Some 90 percent of the library’s revenue is raised through taxes, according to Brayden. Based on the 2004 tax bills, roughly 2.5 percent of an individual’s property taxes go to the library, he said.
Specifically, the question to voters is whether to increase the limiting rate of Forest Park’s property taxes. This would allow the library to raise more money over a shorter period of time than it could under the state’s tax caps, Brayden said.
The requested increase of .15 percent means that a home valued at $100,000 would be taxed $143 under the new limiting rate of .346 percent. For a $200,000 home the taxes would be an estimated $285.
“It just makes more things possible,” Brayden said.
Should the measure be approved in November, the rate increase would take effect for four years. After 2009, budgetary increases would be subject to the tax cap provisions, though the percentage increase would be based on the new roughly $1.2 million operating budget.