A somewhat confusing but routine request from the Forest Park Public Library seeks to set aside some $70,000 in tax money for building maintenance, and would do so without further digging into taxpayers’ pockets.
In order to set aside funds within its overall levy for maintenance costs, the library must ask for a levy of .02 percent, per Illinois statute. Those funds are already part of the library’s annual levy amount, meaning that the request does not increase what is collected from taxpayers, according to library Director Rodger Brayden.
The request, said Brayden, simply guarantees the library’s entitlement to these maintenance funds. Otherwise, he said, the line item is subject to referendum.
“That’s not additional money,” Brayden said. “It’s very weird. That figure is an included figure, not an additional figure.”
The village council approved the request for an additional .02 percent tax levy at its March 24 meeting. The levy will automatically go into effect unless 783 registered voters – 10 percent of the total number of registered voters in Forest Park – sign petitions insisting the levy be put to a vote at the next election. The petitions are due to the village clerk by May 2 in order to force a referendum vote at the November general election.
The village council must approve the library’s tax requests because Forest Park, unlike many towns, does not have a separate library district. The library members are appointed by the mayor rather than elected.
“It’s nothing new,” library Board of Trustees President Andrea Blaylock said.
Blaylock is a columnist for the Forest Park Review.
Voters approved a referendum in November of 2006 that produces an additional $500,000 annually for the library.
The percentage of the maintenance levy request is limited by state law. The levy for operations and maintenance is expected to raise $70,823. Last year’s request amounted to $71,232, according to a memo prepared by the village administrator.
If the library were to skip the special maintenance levy for even one year, it would then have to seek a regular referendum to reinstate it.
“This tax levy is strictly for maintenance and repair,” Blaylock said.