For several years now the Forest Park Public Library has cinched its financial belt another notch with each budgeting season. Staff has been laid off, collections have remained relatively stagnant, and infrastructure improvements have been delayed.
Couple these cutbacks with a period of remarkable growth and increased affluence in the village as a whole, and library patrons will begin to see a measurable gap between what the community should expect from their library and what the institution can currently deliver. We believe that gap is on the verge of becoming a crevasse and ask that you vote in support of the referendum on Nov. 7.
In the coming years, the library will need to update its computer systems, ready itself for a new roof and attempt to meet the growing demands of a growing community. Make no bones about it, this takes money and the library is asking for plenty.
Prior to the signing of a new state tax law this year, the library was prepared to request a significantly smaller amount of funding and in all likelihood would have gotten by with those funds. Now, thanks to the state provision, which allows the library to access more tax dollars (with the potential of bringing in some $500,000 annually over the next four years), the library is like a first-time player with its hands on the winning lottery ticket.
Unlike the lottery, this isn’t free money. It’s your money. But after a closer look at the financial impacts this referendum will have on all parties, we believe the expense is minimal-and the long-term benefits of a well-funded community resource are substantial.
Less than 3 percent of anyone’s property tax bill goes toward the library’s budget, yet the operation gets 90 percent of its funding from property taxes. In actual dollars and cents, this translates into $81 worth of funding for the library coming from the taxes collected on a $100,000 home. If the referendum is approved, the taxes on a $100,000 home will contribute $143 to the library.
This is a scant contribution to make toward a resource that provides a service to every demographic in the community. The extra $62 a year will help fund an expanded collection of hard copy and electronic media, additional staffing, reinvestments to avoid large one-time expenses and expanded programming for adults and children.
The library is worth it. Vote yes on the library referendum.