Library Seeks Nov. $30 Million Advisory Referendum

The Crystal Lake City Council will be asked to put a November advisory referendum on the ballot at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Careful readers will remember that the Crystal Lake Library have been holding meetings.

The June meeting was billed as

“What about the money?”

Crystal Lake is unlike most other libraries in McHenry County.

The yard sign campaign of the Crystal Lake Library District was evident in 2014 on Dole Avenue.

The yard sign campaign of the Crystal Lake Library District, still continuing, was evident in 2014 on Dole Avenue.

It is not a separate tax district governed by elected trustees.

It is part of Crystal Lake City government.

Because Crystal Lake is more than 25,000 people, it is a “Home Rule” unit.

That means, the City Council could approve borrowing enough money to build a library or an addition without asking voter approval.

But, in this day of a middling economy and McHenry County’s being the 29th highest taxed county in the United States (out of more than 3,000 counties), City Council members probably are not willing to go out on a limb to put taxpayers in debt.

Especially, with three council members–Ralph Dawson, Brett Hopkins and Cameron Hubbard–on the ballot next April.

Proposed relocation of the library as seen in the spring 2015 Crystal Lake Library newsletter.

Proposed relocation of the library as seen in the spring 2015 Crystal Lake Library newsletter.

In any event, Library backers are asking an advisory referendum be put on the ballot during the largest voter turnout election of the cycle.

If it passes, one might imagine that next spring the Council will be asked to put a binding referendum on the ballot.

There are two elections next spring.

The first will be the Republican Primary Election for township office.

To the best of my knowledge, only Algonquin Township Republican Precinct Committeemen have voted to hold such a primary.

However, four years ago, all four townships overlaying parts of Crystal Lake–Algonquin, Dorr, Grafton and Nunda–held primary elections.

Here is what the council members will be reading:


The Crystal Lake Public Library Board of Trustees and Executive Director conducted four community engagement sessions to discuss their proposal for a possible library expansion.

The Crystal Lake Public Library is a semi-autonomous municipal corporation organized under the Local Library Act [75 ILCS 5/1-1 et seq.] and is governed by a Board of Library Trustees, appointed by the City of Crystal Lake Mayor with City Council approval. Day-to-d(‘ly operations are managed by an Executive Director hired by the Library Board of Trustees.

The Crystal Lake Library Board of Trustees does not have the ability to issue debt. Any library organized under the Local Library Act can only issue bonds with the permission of corporate authorities of the City.

Based on the outcome of the community engagement sessions, at their June 29, 2016 meeting, the Crystal Lake Library Board voted unanimously to recommend to the City Council that a new 75,000 square foot Library be built at the current location with the following wording for the Advisory Referendum ballot question:

The question the Library wants to have on the Crystal Lake ballot in November.

The question the Library wants to have on the Crystal Lake ballot in November asks if Crystal Lakers are wiling to pay $132 more each year to build a new library.

Representatives from the Crystal Lake Library will be in attendance at the July 19th City Qouncil meeting to formally request that the City Council adopt an ordinance authorizing the Crystal Lake Public Library expansion advisory question to be placed on the November 8, 2016.

Financing Options:

City staff contacted PMA Securities, the City’s financial advisor, to dete1mine the impact of a bond if an advisory referendum is successful.

The attached information includes various debt scenarios and their impact to individual property owners. The presentation has a summary of each option by amount and term.

The summary includes the estimated debt service, estimated tax rate increase, and estimated payment increase for homes valued at $100,000, $200,000 and $300,000.

This is the house on the Crystal Lake Avenue side of the Library that would be torn down.

This is the house on the Crystal Lake Avenue side of the Library that would be torn down under the new plan.

The above analysis is only for the capital improvement portion of the proposed library expansion.

A larger library facility will require additional operating costs.

In 2014, the Library contracted with Ehlers and Associates to conduct a financial analysis.

The attached Ehlers financial analysis addresses approximately $122,510 in additional operating costs.

Because the Crystal Lake Library is a component unit of the City of Crystal Lake, the Library carmot issue debt on its own. Instead, any bond issuance would need to be approved by the City Council.

Below are the next steps assuming that an advisory referendum question would be placed on the November 8, 2016 ballot.

Library election schedule 7-16

An advisory referendum, which is allowed under the State Election Code, is strictly advisory and
has no legal effect if adopted or rejected.

= = = = =
Four years ago, the cost was said to be about $21 million.  The cost is estimated to be $132 per year for a $200,000 home.

The median sales price for homes in Crystal Lake for Apr 14 to Jul 13 was $206,750 based on 204 home sales.


Library Seeks Nov. $30 Million Advisory Referendum — 33 Comments

  1. Can’t believe we are even discussing this….$30M….does anyone realize how much money that is, plus interest?


  2. Even with the internet, libraries still have a place in the future.

    $132 for a 200k home is just to much of a increase and may not pass.

    $50 year increase may pass.

  3. Xout42, in my opinion one reason library’s have turned to handling DVDs and Cd’s is to survive.

    With computers, streaming units and DVD/CD rental stores totally unnecessary.

    Kind of like townships building new buildings.

    After all if they were consolidated what to do with the brand new equipment and buildings?

    Ridiculous, Right On!

  4. This is an opportunity for the city and the library itself to rethink the concept of today’s library.

    Cal’s posted info in the past about how it could be cheaper to give residents Netflix subscriptions.

    That says a lot.

    We live in unincorporated CL and, after doing the math, chose to not pay the taxes to join the library because it would’ve cost us about $350 annually.

    Instead, my avid-reader kids were told they could buy any books they wanted on Amazon Prime.

    They did, and I still saved money.

    Since my home is above the CL average (as are half the homes 🙂 ), I’d hate being forced to pay $200+ more in taxes.

    Following the same, outdated library model is a dangerous financial proposition.

  5. Seems like it’s adding unnecessary expense to this project by trying to shoehorn the needed library expansion into the existing site.

    Maybe it’s time to revive an old dream from back when Three Oaks Recreation Area was in the planning stages along with Park District discussions about the need for a pool, maybe indoor for teaching and competition and maybe even attached to a real community center with athletic courts, a senior center, and maybe even a fitness center and, yes, a library branch.

    Of course making any progress on this dream would have required close inter-agency cooperation between the City of Crystal Lake, the Library Board, the Crystal Lake Park District, and maybe even District 155 to sign on for the use of the pool.

    But “working and playing well with others” has not exactly been a strong suit with some of the above agencies.

    Consequently, the dream has died.

    Every time I drive by the vacant land where Cub Foods and Wal-Mart used to stand, I’m reminded of what still could be.

    Fast forward

  6. $30,000,000 is obscene in light of whatever enganced facility is created.

    Last time I went to that library it wasn’t like it suffered from overcrowding!

    The changes to accessing information have mega library Arlington Heights removing books and way too much space empty now.

    That mega library is an assault on those voters.

    However, this would be more than an assault on crystal lake voters.

    It would be an absolute rape.

  7. Re: “Even with the internet, libraries still have a place in the future.”

    Like, the need for mentally ill people using the anonymity of internet use at a library to hide their desires for watching porn?

    Any statistics available on what sites are visited by library owned internet terminals?

    Close all the libraries and give those who cannot afford it a Netflix subscription along with EBT card.

    We give them cell phones, why not a Netflix subscription?

    At least that way we could track their access – something libraries do not do.

    We could even give bonus points for time spent watching educational programs.

  8. According to the academic research referenced below, property tax rates are capitalized into home values.

    In Woodstock, for example, the property tax rate is 4.6% of total home fair market value.

    The average property tax rate in America is 1.4%.

    That means that every year, Woodstock home values fall 3.2% relative to the values of homes in America.

    After a very few years of negative value accrual, a homeowner will not be able to trade the home in Woodstock for a home of comparable value anywhere else.

    In Crystal Lake, the tax rate is about 4% of total home fair market value.

    (see below. 12% of EAV=12/3=4% of total value)

    CL Homeowners should quantify not only the annual cost of the new library levy, but the cost of lost home equity each year due to the elevated property tax rate.

    Every percentage point of additional property tax rate will be negatively capitalized into Crystal Lake home prices, relative to homes in places with more reasonable property tax rates (such as Chicago, with its 2.4% property tax rate.

    CL home prices will fall/lag Chicago home prices by 1.6% each year, every year that the tax rate disparity exists).

    The total cost of this additional library expenditure will be the total of taxes plus lost home equity value.

    Ryan M. Gallagher:
    Department of Economics, Northeastern Illinois University,
    Chicago, IL, USA

    Haydar Kurban
    Department of Economics, Howard University,
    Washington, DC, USA


    Joseph J. Persky:
    Department of Economics, University of Illinois
    Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

    Tax Code
    Tax Code Rate 12.196898
    C001 – MCHENRY COUNTY 1.078148
    CVMC – MCHENRY CO CONSV 0.276611
    EC528 – COLLEGE DISTRICT 528 MCC 0.434758
    EE047 – SCHOOL DIST 47 4.559118
    EH155 – SCHOOL DIST 155 3.025533
    TTAQR – ALGONQUIN TWP RD & BR 0.186219
    Totals for 19099 12.196898

  9. The norther part of Crystal Lake above Crystal Lake Avenue is in Nunda Township.

    The western part (west of the street in front of my house, acutally) is in Grafton Township.

    A tiny bit on the Northwest side lies in Dorr Township.

  10. ok in Grafton you “only” pay property tax rate 3.916% (11.75%/3)

    Tax Code
    Tax Code Rate 11.752202
    C001 – MCHENRY COUNTY 1.078148
    CVMC – MCHENRY CO CONSV 0.276611
    EC528 – COLLEGE DISTRICT 528 MCC 0.434758
    EE047 – SCHOOL DIST 47 4.559118
    EH155 – SCHOOL DIST 155 3.025533
    TTGFR – GRAFTON TWP RD & BR 0.063924
    Copyright (C) 1997-2016 DEVNET Incorporated bxj
    Tax Year: 2015
    District Rates by Taxcode Report
    Page 133 of 198
    04/29/2016 09:57 AM
    McHenry County
    18010 –
    Tax Code
    Tax Code Rate 11.752202
    Totals for 18010 11.752202

  11. Point is, the additional costs of additional tax levy in an extraordinary property tax rate scenario should be measured not only by the additional hard dollar annual costs, but by the loss of home equity value each year relative to all other communities in America which have reasonable property tax rates.

  12. I know I said it before but there are places in this great country where the libraries cost taxpayers nothing.

    All is donated and run by volunteers and maybe one or two paid employees.

    Just a thought.

  13. How about those of us that have lived in CL for more than 40 years and have been to the CL Library only twice?

  14. Again look up the word NO library, you will find nothing but wastefulness at the tax payers expense definition!

  15. Let’s see . . .

    Boards want to do big projects on
    MCC & County buildings in the
    Next couple of years

    Also, there is the Randall Road project.

    Don’t any of these groups talk to each
    Other & think about the overall burden
    This puts on the taxpayers in this already
    HEAVILY TAXED. County !

    There is a BIG PICTURE here & it needs
    To be looked at by all these boards &
    Groups !

    Just glad I don’t live in the CL library
    District too.

  16. The library owns almost the entire block.

    Bought homes & tore them down they also own the blue house 3rd from corner.

    They wanted room to expand.

    Why not use the land they have.

    Plus the house 2nd from the corner is forsake.

  17. The TAXERS are coming, the TAXERS are coming.
    (He never said the British are coming)

    According to the Central Intelligence Agency, Paul Revere founded the first patriot intelligence network on record, a Boston-based group known as the “mechanics.”

    Prior to the American Revolution he had been a member of the Sons of Liberty, a political organization that opposed incendiary tax legislation such as the Stamp Act of 1765 and organized demonstrations against the British.

    Beginning in 1774, the mechanics, also referred to as the Liberty Boys, spied on British soldiers and met regularly (in the legendary Green Dragon Tavern) to share information.

  18. Seriously Sue, how many times
    Has the CL library expanded &
    Remodeled in the last 25 years ?

    Libraries have a different focus
    These days & they are downsizing
    All the books.

    Just because land is available doesn’t
    Mean they NEED a new 75,000 sq ft

    WANT is always different than NEED !

    My 89 year old disabled housebound
    Mother who lives in the the CL library
    District doesn’t WANT or can afford to
    Pay more for this type of excessive addition to her taxes.

    There are alot of people who can’t
    Afford this !

    Time to think of others & not a few peoples WANTS when there is not
    A true NEED.

  19. It is time to put an end to the way Bond Referendums are marketed to taxpayers in this state.

    It is not a $30 Million Bond Advisory Referendum.

    It is a $30 Million Bond Principal Referendum.

    Plus a ? Interest Referendum.

    The $30 Million is Principal ONLY.

    The $30 Million does not include INTEREST.

    Taxpayers have to pay the bondholders Principal + Interest.

    So the board is misleading taxpayers.

    So is just about every other board that has approved a bond referendum in this state.

    Not even a used car salesman can present the buyer with a principal only figure then slip in the interest payment.

    It should be STATE LAW the measure passed by the board, and the referendum ballot question, includes not only Principal, but the expected INTEREST RATE and TOTAL AMOUNT OF INTEREST.

    And then not on the referendum ballot, but in the documents at the same time the referendum wording is approved, the board should also approve the anticipated principal and interest annual debt service schedule not only for this referendum, but also for outstanding bonds.

    Now there is some wiggle room because interest rates change and an exact interest rate cannot be predetermined.

    It would have to be determined exactly how to word a state law so that an estimated interest rate (or range) could be determined as of some date.

    Then the board approves that estimated rate which would be subject to change (there are negotiated bonds and competitive bid bonds).

    Then the rate estimate could be updated on a weekly or monthly on the taxing district website.

    That’s a rough draft outline.

    It is not perfect, but hopefully people get the drift.



    Next, the estimated increase of $132 per year for a $200 home.

    What is the proposed schedule for that?

    $132 for how many years.

    Many times in referendums, the payments escalate.

    Meaning $132 year 1, $140 year 2, $150 year 3, etc.

    That’s why both the principal and interest debt service schedule for the proposed bonds should be posted, as well as the principal and interest debt service schedule for the existing bonds.

    Taxpayers need to understand the complete picture of future tax hikes resulting from bonds.

    Because as existing bonds are paid off, existing bond payments decrease, which reduces the impact of the proposed bonds.

  20. Agree with last comment.

    Bond interest is a significant, actual debt obligation of taxpayers, and failure to indicate that ballpark amount of cost should be taken as deliberate maneuver to mislead taxpayers.

    Accrued unpaid bond interest should also be included when calculating statutory debt limit leeway for schools and other taxing bodies.

    In the case of Woodstock D200, there is at least another $20 million of unreported accrued interest debt which is not required to be reported, OR considered when the school decides to borrow more.

    Only principal debt is considered when calculating allowed borrowing under debt limit caps.

  21. The MCC project is not costing taxpayers.

    The funds for the new science blg are coming from:

    *money they already have for capital projects, with funds to spare

    *students tuition/user fees and


    This Library Project is ridiculous.

    Do a fundraiser, Crystal Lake.

    And Woodstock, all I can say is hold on to your arses!

    If Home Rule goes thru, you’re screwed! (especially with that bunch in city council running things!)

    Home Rule hasn’t even passed and they’re spending the money on ridiculous stuff like
    reusable grocery bag program for 15,000 homes to the tune of $50K!!!!!!

    There is a group in Woodstock looking for a ~clean slate~ for the City Council.

    If interested, let Cal know and he will forward your info to them.

  22. I wonder if CL has some old library bonds that are about to be retired?

    The increase seems a lot smaller if they issue the new bonds at the same time that the old ones are paid off.

    I know that’s a favorite tactic of school districts to mask the true cost of a bond referendum.

  23. The debt service schedule for existing bonds, principal and interest, for the library may be on the EMMA MSRB website and in the library’s financial statements.

    If not, ask the library to email such a report.

    If they refuse or don’t bother, submit a FOIA request for such a document.

    Another point on bond referendums.

    The bond referendum increase is just that, only for the bond referendum.

    Remember to look at your property tax bill to see how much library taxes have been increased in the past.

    And ask the library to produce a report estimating how much taxes will increase with and without the referendum for at least the life of the proposed bonds.

  24. We know municipalities like to run businesses in competition with their own constituents but maybe this should all end.

    Maybe the days of the public library are at an end too.

    A non-profit privately funded entity could do it.

    Imagine local government thinking of ways to save money instead of wasting it.

    What a concept.

  25. It makes no financial sense to vote for any tax hike when there are so many unknowns already.

    The taxpayer IOU’s in this state for bonds, pensions, retiree healthcare, past due bills, etc. are spread all over the place among local, county, and state taxing districts and their various sources of revenues such as property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, etc.

    And that does not even include Federal with Social Security & Medicare looking as if they more revenue from taxpayers in the future, and their tax revenues of Federal Income Taxes.

    As of right now no one can calculate how much all those taxes for any given taxpayer may increase.

    So until the government does a better job with transparency and explaining that to taxpayers, why enable the addict by voting for a tax hike.

    Truth in Accounting is shedding some light on taxpayer IOUs.


    The village of Crystal Lake posts a 132 page CAFR on its website.

    The fiscal year ends April 30th.

    They had a Bond refunding in April 2014 according to the 2015 CAFR.

    Page 41 of the pdf for that CAFR states a General Obligation Bond balance of $39,655,000 as of April 30, 2015.

    That’s principal only.

    Page 84 of the CAFR lists the principal and interest payment schedule for the bonds, adding up the 4 columns of principal and interest for Governmental Activities, and principal and interest for Business type Activities results in a grand total of $51,797,306.

    Subtracting, 51,797,306 Total – $39,655,000 Principal = $12,142,306 interest.

    Looking at it another way, interest is 23% of the total.

    Yet the during a bond referendum, the annual principal and interest payment schedule for each year until the bonds are retired is not presented.

    Instead just a figure of $x dollars on a $250,000 house is presented for year 1.

    Without telling the taxpayer if that $x is fixed or variable until the bonds are retired.


    One the EMMA MSRB website enter 229255 in the CUSIP search bar.

    That’s the CUSIP for the Village of Crystal Lake.

    Locate General Obligation Refunding Bonds Series 2014.

    Follow this path:

    Click on that issue description > accept > Official Statement > Official Statement posted 04/07/2014 (2.2 MB).

    Read that document and learn lots more about the village of crystal lake finances.


    Now that’s just part of the story.

    We could delve further and report about pensions and retiree healthcare future taxpayer obligations for not only the village of Crystal Lake, but also for all the other taxing districts on a typical Crystal Lake taxpayers property tax bill.

    And then we could move on and figure out Federal.

    Ideally what’s needed is a standard mandated way for all governments nationwide to report this information on a single consolidated government website which would be open to taxpayers for free, and there would be a penalty for non compliance, perhaps some jail time.

    Hide information from the taxpayers, go to jail for a few days.

  26. This is crazy crazy crazy.

    I am seriously thinking selling my house.

  27. This is just an advisory referendum.

    It would not raise your taxes.

  28. The Village of Crystal Lake has substantial police and fire pension “debt” called an unfunded liability.

    An unfunded liability is the amount the actuaries calculate should be in the pension fund as of a certain date, but is not.


    Is the Crystal Lake Library or the Village of Crystal Lake mentioning this to taxpayers as part of the advisory referendum?

    Or do the taxpayers have to be educated and figure it out on their own.


    In a related dynamic, on the same election November 8, 2016 election ballot for the Crystal Lake Library referendum, is the County Board Chair.

    Democrat Jack Franks v Republican Mike Walkup.

    Typically, a County Board Chair election would have nothing to do with an advisory library referendum.

    That’s not the case here, because Jack Franks has chosen to make a major part of his election campaign a call for every taxing district in McHenry County to reduce their property tax revenue by 10%.


    Crystal Lake Firefighters Pension Fund
    – 68% funded
    – $11,917,321 unfunded liability 2014
    – $04,515,696 unfunded liability 2005
    – 164% increase in unfunded liability from 2005 – 2014

    City of Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley endorses Jack Franks for McHenry County Board Chair.

    Jack Franks says, “I’m running for McHenry County Board Chairman to cut property taxes levy by 10% across the board.

    This means a 10% property tax levy reduction from EVERY government body in our County.”


    Crystal Lake Police Pension Fund
    – 58% funded
    – $22,873,951 unfunded liability 2014
    – $12,261,281 unfunded liability 2005
    – 87% increase in unfunded liability from 2005 – 2014

    City of Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley endorses Jack Franks for McHenry County Board Chair.

    Jack Franks says, “I’m running for McHenry County Board Chairman to cut property taxes levy by 10% across the board.

    This means a 10% property tax levy reduction from EVERY government body in our County.”


    Combined Crystal Lake Police and Fire Pension unfunded liability
    2014 – $34,791,272
    2005 – $16,776,977
    107% increase in unfunded liability from 2004 – 2015
    $18,014,295 increase in unfunded liability from 2005 – 2014


    The Crystal Lake police and fire pension unfunded liability increased by $18 million dollars ($18M) from 2004 – 2015, from $16.8M to $34.8M.

    On July 19, 2016 the Crystal Lake City Council voted unanimously to put a question on the November 8, 2016 ballot asking if $30.1M in bonds [principal only, interest is additional] should be issued to build a new library.

    Voting Council members:
    Mayor Aaron Shepley
    Ellen Brady
    Ralph Dawson
    Cathy Ferguson
    Haig Haleblian
    Brett Hopkins
    Cameron Hubbard > About Us > Searchable City Council Minutes > 2016-07-19


    Source of pension statistics:

    Illinois Department of Insurance

    Public Pension Division

    2015 Biennial Report, covering the years 2013 – 2014

    The report was issued October 1, 2015 and is issued every 2 years.

    The next report is due presumably around October 1, 2017.

    The date of the Crystal Lake Fire and Police statistics in that report is April 30, 2014. > Documentation > DOI Reports > Public Pensions > Public Pensions Biennial Report > 2015

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