A communication from CL Library Trustee Bill Weller about the piece posted yesterday against the $30.1 million advisory referendum put on the ballot by the Crystal Lake City Council:
As a Trustee of the CL Public Library, I hope you will let me clarifythe misinformation and counter the accusations made in the anonymous handout that is associated with the Vote No yard signs. I’ll discuss them point by point.
• The author is right that this proposal is more expensive than the new building rejected by the voters 12 years ago. The escalation of costs for constructing a new library is going up about $1M a year. If we don’t build a new library now, but decide 10 years later we should have, it will cost at least $10M more. Pretty simple, actually.
• Calling it a massive increase is a matter of opinion and what each voter needs to decide for him or herself. If your home has a Fair Cash Value (this figure is on your tax bill) of $200,000, you will pay $132 more per year. The author plays with a lot of numbers in this one, but using percentages is misleading. The actual figures are these: the Library now gets 3.87% of your total tax bill and with no other increases from other taxing bodies, building a new library would raise that to 5.6%.
• The Park District does a great job, but you can’t directly compare it to the Library. The Park District serves a district and therefore has a much larger tax base. If more people are paying in, the tax rate can be lower. The Library’s service area is defined by the borders of the city of Crystal Lake. Consider also that the Park District charges additional fees for programs and events, while the Library does not.
The last 2 points are accusations made in an email sent last February to the City Council and the NW Herald. The Library Board was informed and responded directly to the accuser, pointing out the falseness of these accusations supported by legal counsel and references to the appropriate Illinois codes.
• The Board made legal purchases of the properties necessary for our proposed new building with the full knowledge, counsel, and guidance of the Library’s attorney. The method used to make those purchases was informed by past experience, designed to save tax payers’ money, and fully legal. The reasons behind the purchases, and the method used to do so, has been openly discussed in various venues. Any trustee will gladly explain if asked. As to the prices, and references to “prevailing market values,” I don’t know where the author is getting his/her numbers, but the Board, realtor, and
lawyer, who were actually involved in those negotiations, determined the prices paid were reasonable.
• There are several mistakes in this point (such as referring to the Library Director as a Trustee), but the key accusation of wrongdoing demonstrates a misunderstanding of the differences between Village and Township and City libraries. In Crystal Lake, the Library Trustees are appointed by the Mayor with the approval of the City Council (75 ILCS 5/41). As to the author’s opinion that the Trustees are insular, stale, and out-of-touch, most citizens appreciate that there are individuals willing to volunteer their time to gain experience, become knowledgable, study options, and make tough decisions.
It’s what makes Crystal Lake a great place to live.