The following was prepared by Steve Willson:
Crystal Lake Library Facts
The Crystal Lake City Council recently voted to put a $30 million [advisory] referendum on the November ballot.
The referendum is for a brand new, bigger library.
Here are some facts that voters and taxpayers might find useful in making a decision about whether to vote “Yes” or “No”.
Fact 1: The current library building is physically sound.
The current library building is not dilapidated. It is not a fire hazard. It does not have any building code violations.
In short, it serves its purpose adequately.
However, the Library Board wants to tear down this perfectly good building because it is “obsolete”, by which they mean they want a newer, cooler library.
Ask yourself this question:
If they build a new library, will you borrow more books?
If not, then what is the real, tangible $30 million benefit to taxpayers?
Fact 2: Library use is in long-term decline, as the table below shows.
With 20% less traffic and falling, you might wonder why we need a bigger building.
Fact 3: Almost 40% of the library’s circulation is DVDs and video games.
Fact 4: Last year it cost the library $6.50 to circulate ONE movie.
By next year, it could cost $7.50!
Here’s the calculation.
In fiscal year 2016, the Library spent $5.3 million. (Source: City of Crystal Lake Annual Budget, Fiscal Year 2017)
Divide $5.3 million by 819,846 items circulated, and the answer is $6.48.
If circulation slides only 5% next year, less than in prior years, then they will circulate about 779,000 items. The budget for next year is $5.9 million.
Do the division and the cost is $7.52.
If almost 40% of the library’s circulation is movies and video games, and if it costs the $6.50 to circulate the same movie RedBox circulates for $1.50 (and makes a profit), you might ask yourself:
When did our library become a money-losing, taxpayer-subsidized competitor for RedBox and NetFlix at more than FOUR OR FIVE TIMES THEIR COST?
Fact 5: The cost to circulate one item went up 44% between fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2016.
It cost the Library $4.50 to circulate one item in fiscal year 2014. The cost in fiscal year 2016 was 44% higher.
It is likely to be 67% higher in this fiscal year.
With the new bonds, the cost per item circulated could rise to over $10.00!
The annual cost of a $30 million bond issue at 2% is $1.9 million per year.
That works out to $2.41 per item circulated in fiscal 2017.
Add that to the projected cost per item in fiscal year 2017, and the total is $9.93.
With the projected additional operating cost of the new building, the total cost is over $10.00!
Fact 6: The fiscal year 2017 budget calls for an 11.7% increase in the Library’s budget. (Source: City of Crystal Lake Annual Budget, Fiscal Year 2017)
Fact 7: If the bond issue passes, the Library’s property taxes will be 72% higher than in fiscal year 2014.
As noted above, the annual payment on a $30 million, 20 year bond issue at 2% is $1.9 million per year.
The property tax for the library in fiscal year 2014 was $4.3 million.
The budgeted property tax levy for fiscal year 2017 is $5.5 million.
$1.9 million + $5.5 million is 72% HIGHER than just three years ago.
Fact 8: The Crystal Lake Library is more than twice as expensive per family as other area libraries.
Fact 9: The Crystal Lake Library employs many more people than other area libraries.
Fact 10: The construction budget for the new library is $400 per square foot.
The new library is to be 75,000 square feet. $30.1 million divided by 75,000 square feet is $400 per square foot. That is more than three times what businesses pay to build commercial space in Crystal Lake.