CL Library Outreach Spending: Fall 2015 vs. Fall 2016

McHenry County Blog has filed Freedom of Information request to find out how public relations costs this year, when the bond referendum was being run, compared with last year’s.

Below is what was found:

Listed below are the amounts spent on Postage & Handling.

The breakout is as follows:

  • September – November 2015:  $ 6,146.89
  • September – November 2016:  $14,817.31

In addition to postage, the Library expended the following amounts on Printing:

  • September – November, 2015:  $  9,400
  • September – November, 2016:  $22,839
The back of the post card tells how much more an average Crystal Lake homeowner would pay--$231 a year--if the Crystal Lake City Council decided to borrow $30.1 million to build a new library.

The back of the post card from the Crystal Lake Library tells how much more an average Crystal Lake homeowner would pay–$231 a year–if the Crystal Lake City Council decided to borrow $30.1 million to build a new library.

The Library does not track Staff time by project. During the requested timeframes, Staff in the PR Office earned the following, including fringe benefits:

What you see above is taxpayer money, not be be confused with campaign dollars spent by the .Crystal Lake Library YES Committee.

Showing as raised by the committee are contributions of $27,346.36.

That includes the $8,000 given by Library architect Engberg Anderson written about by Steve Willson.

You can see who gave what in amounts of $1,000 or higher here.

That is more than some countywide Republican primary candidates have spent in recent years.


CL Library Outreach Spending: Fall 2015 vs. Fall 2016 — 22 Comments

  1. This is absolutely more infuriating than just their complete lack of intelligence on how to go about procuring more funds for their dinosaur daydreams.

    How dare they spend my dollars on such falderal!

    These are entitled, stupid people that don’t have a lick of common sense or a modicum of compassion for others.

    I am horrified that this would go on at a place that initially was purposed to be a place to gather and dispense knowledge.

    Who knew that people could be this selfish and stupid to destroy others lives in their quest to keep their own self importance!

    While families are panicking because they can’t find enough dollars to stretch through their month, really psychotic people like this run our cities and infrastructures.

    They must also be too blind to see the pitchforks coming.

  2. Its all about the prestige to them like its some high society position to be attached to the leach sucking entity…

    that’s it they are so delusional about it they do not understand the word NO!

    its like its not listed in their library of dictionaries… or they are to lazy to even look up the meaning!…

  3. I am shocked to learn that the CL Library has a “PR Coordinator” and a “PR Assistant!


    Are they truly being paid 25K/quarter???

    If so, it is outrageous.

  4. Jim B, do you remember when the CL Library received the Ames Trust money from HSB, when it was suppose to go to a Hospital?

    They blew the money then too.

  5. That the Library spends $100,000 on a full time and a part time PR, plus that much again on thinly disguised political mailings, is grotesque.

    They are a taxpayer supported monopoly.

    They have no need for one PR person, much less two.

    Other libraries put out a periodic newsletter without fully time PR employees.

  6. I am sure there is a person somewhere in CL well qualified to run this library on 25 hours or so of reasonable pay.

    Add in an assistant, a few high schoolers and lots of volunteers and get rid of the rest.

    Use that money for upkeep on the library.

    This whole thing is ridiculous

  7. Holy Moly!

    WTF, Mr. Wilson.

    How do any of the numbers above add up to $100,000?

    Your math always plays falsely to make your points.

    And the rest of you… your continual narrow-minded, selfish attacks and refusals to even consider the reasoning behind what professionals and long-serving volunteers have carefully determined is best for this city is truly depressing.

    Do any of you even use the library? Do you care that almost 900 people do every day?

    Spending now to give this city a library worthy of its quality and designed to last 50 years or more — is such a BETTER USE of TAX DOLLARS than putting any money at all into that old, compromised building, that I would think all you tax watchdogs would be fighting for it.

    It’s easy to say NO and argue to spend nothing, but a community without a viable library is not only an embarrassment, it’s a crime against the public who use it and NEED it.

  8. This type of sociopaths savagery makes one almost give up on the human race.

    Those who use the library to get money for themselves,or other purposes want to take money by law from the community at large, without any factual data to support of whether money is needed for community wellbeing, or whether the purposes for which the OPM is to be used could be otained more cost effectively elsewhere.

  9. Ygads, the pay for the two PR people is over $25,000 for three months.

    That’s $100,000 per year.

    As for needing a new library, the facts do not support it.

    Foot traffic is down 24% in the last six years.

    Circulation is down 20% in three years.

    The cost to circulate one item is $6.50.

    The cost per family of the CL Library is more than twice what families in Cary and Woodstock pay.

    Almost 40% of the Library’s circulation is videos, especially popular videos available (at a much lower cost) from RedBox and NetFlix.

    It is not the job of the government to provide services the private sector can provide, especially when the public value of such services is suspect (seven copies of the tween vampire romance Twilight?) and the cost is literally a multiple of what private enterprise provides the same service for.

    Please, respond to these facts.

  10. The position of PR Office Assistant has never been reflected on the compensation report (PA 97-0609), so is that a new position, or how is the position classified on the compensation report?

    Unless the PR Coordinator received a raise since the last compensation report was issued, the fringe benefits for the PR Coordinator are 28% of overall compensation [1-($53,082/($18,449 x 4))].


    A major issues with the affordability of the library is the taxpayers owe the pension funds $48 million dollars.

    As of the FY 2016 CAFR, pensions (IMRF, Police, & Fire) are underfunded by $48 million dollars.

    Meaning $48 million dollars should be in the pension fund, but is not, to meet projected payouts, as of the measurement dates of:

    Police – April 30, 2016 – $24,677,865

    Fire – April 30, 2016 – $12,943,084

    IMRF: December 31, 2015 – $10,390,342


    Annual revenues to the City of Crystal Lake from all sources for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2016 was $62,042,000.

    That includes:

    – Charges for services

    – Grants and contributions

    – Property taxes

    – Other taxes

    – Intergovernmental (state, Federal, etc.

    – Other


    There is the $48 million plan from Crystal Lake to fully fund those pensions.

    The taxpayer would want the funding plan to be itemized annually by pension fund to determine if the plan is realistic.


    Many of the municipalities in Illinois are calling for police and fire pension reform by the state, since state law sets the benefit levels.

    The state politicians (State Representatives and Senators and Governors) hiked the pension benefits, even though most police and fire pensions were already underfunded.

    The locally elected municipal boards hiked salaries, even though pensions were already underfunded.


    It’s irresponsible to talk about a new library, much less hold a referendum, with the massive pension problem which has not even been explained in a way most taxpayers understand.

  11. Ygads — I’m still waiting for your rebuttal.

    Please, if I’ve made an error in my math, explain it to all of us.

    If, on the other hand, my math is correct, then please be so good as to acknowledge this fact.

    And, please, respond to the other facts that I presented.

  12. How could these “professionals” allow the building to fall down around their ears as we are led to believe?

  13. Mr. Willson, your “facts” are typically just calculations that might “mean” many different things, but I do see now where your $100,000 figure comes from.

    I wrongly assumed your were claiming that as money spent on the referendum, which would have ignored all of the other responsibilities of the PR staff.

    Whether or not the library needs those people is a matter of opinion, but an informed opinion is what I’m interested in.

    Do you know what those people do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?

    I suspect the term PR is an oversimplification, as someone does the design, graphic art, printing prep or all their publications, along with newspaper releases, interviews, etc. And it would seem you’ve done a similar over-simplification to derive the numbers you’ve published before.

    You used the overall budget expenditure to calculate the cost to circulate one item, as if no money needs to be spent on necessary repairs to the aging building, salaries for the frequently praised staff (at least frequently in other circles), snow removal, whatever… all the things that go into maintaining a public building.

    If I remember correctly, you used the same approach to get your cost comparison between library video checkouts and RedBox rentals, yet someone countered you on that and her letter made more sense to me.

    Divide the cost of that video by the number of families that got to watch it via the library loan.

    I don’t have the means to check your figures for the downtrends in circulation and foot traffic, but the current building is too small whether you’re right or not and whether that recent trend continues or not.

    Look at the overall growth in those stats since 1995 which was the last time any space was added to the library (and that space was supposed to be followed by a second addition back then which never happened).

    No new items can be added without something being discarded, items are in storage, seating is very limited, the meeting room is an embarrassment compared to other libraries.

    You do often make comparisons to other libraries; how would you rate the CL library’s building, service, collection, and overall ambience in comparison to other community libraries?

    And maybe you’d be willing to answer an even more pointed question: what would be your proposal for the CL library?

  14. So Ygads is either someone that has a dog in this race or someone that wants to rent free videos.


  15. CP, If I can use you as an example, let me point out that many contributors to these comments criticize, make simplistic suggestions that demonstrate a lack of understanding, and also (like yourself) ask questions that are easily answered.

    Perhaps the questions are rhetorical, perhaps the askers are lazy, but the result is a lot of ill-informed opinions and group-think sharing takes place here. You’ve got questions about the library?

    Have you attended any meetings?

    Read any mailings?

    How about visit the library’s web site?

    The FAQs posted there are full of detailed information.

    I copied and pasted the topics below (they’re not numbered but check out the 9th and 10th ones), but I’ll point out a key aspect of the answer to your last question.

    Would you support those “professionals” investing $4M to replace the outdated, inefficient HVAC system even if that building (and the new HVAC) might have been torn down and replaced?

    Do you recommend those “professionals” invest that $4M even if the modernized equipment would do nothing to fix the limited and inefficient ductwork that delivers the cold/hot air to the building’s spaces? (The ducts in the ceilings at the library are wide and short due to the limited height of the space up there, and no matter how powerful and efficient the fans are blowing the air through the ducts, they can only handle so much at a time and will only whistle even even louder than they do now. See how much I learned reading the FAQs!)

    Where will the new Library be located?

    Does the Library own the property?

    Are libraries still relevant?

    What work has been done to demonstrate a need for a new Library?

    What are the benefits of a new Library facility for our community?

    Does the proposed plan address future needs as well?

    What’s the history of the current Library building?

    What’s wrong with the current Library? It seems fine to me.

    What options have been considered?

    Why would it cost $9.1 million to repair the existing building?

    What issues cannot be resolved with the $9.1 million Repair option?

    What is floor to floor height about and why should I care?

    What is the ballot question and what does it mean?

    What is a bond referendum?

    What is my tax impact?

    What is the Library’s portion of the current tax bill?

    What other funding options has the Library pursued?

    How much money does the Library have now to put towards this project?

    Have Operating Costs been taken into consideration?

    How long will it take to build the proposed new Library?

    What will happen to the houses and apartment buildings that
    are currently on the site of the proposed new Library?

    Will the Library still be open during construction?

    Does the proposed new Library have any options for future expansion?

  16. Two things are certain – the taxpayers are overburdened and the other is that the library is not needed as a taxpayer-funded entity.

    CL has a library at MCC.

    The taxpayers can longer afford to fund the library.

    It is that simple.

    Listen to those who pay the bills.

  17. The great thing about this country is that when a need is perceived it is met either by entrepreneurs or by volunteers.

    Lately, local government has taken it upon itself to meet these perceived needs in taxpayer-funded enterprises like banquet halls, driving ranges etc…

    A small local library is one thing but a behemoth with a huge price tag is another.

    As Mark has ably pointed out, CL has way too much debt already.

  18. ygads self righteous indignation does not make your vague emotional proclamations more compelling.

    You have not the means to fact -check figures?

    So you cut and paste the propaganda written by paid library personnel who benefit from writing what will advance their own cause?

    Even you must see the irony in that–it isn’t humorous though because the human cost of useful idiots advancing profligate public spending is quite high.

    Have you looked at the property tax rates in CL?

    Have you looked at property tax rate in America?

    What is the highest property tax rate that you personally are willing to,pay?

    Have you looked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on household expenditures?

    Do you know how much larger percentage of household income people here must pay in proper taxes than most everywhere else in America?

    What would you suggest all CL household budgets cut inorder to fund your pet project?

    Should they get rid of pets?

    Cut out college fund savings?

    How much are you personally willing to,pay additionally to support everybody else ‘s pet projects?

    Have you studied the capitalization of excess property taxes into home values?

    Do you see how local real estate values have lagged everywhere else ( which have reasonable property tax rates)?

    Have you determined what actual costs should be or could be for have in a similar sized building?

    Do you take the word of those with much to gain or do you ever do independent research?

    What about just toughing it out with temperatures a few degrees outside your ideal comfort range?

    What is the most you are willing to force others to sacrifice in order to fulfill your desires?

  19. Tear it down!

    And that comes from a previouos librarian!!

    (CP and Susan aree totally right on target here.)

    I’m against this fiasco because anything of value (that the library previously had) has been destroyed already.


    It is more important for me to eat.

  20. Ygads:

    I appreciate that you wrote back, and especially your concession on the PR salaries. As far as I’m concerned, the purpose of this discussion is to seek the best solution, not just to push one side or the other. That’s what I do: I’m an analyst. So I approach each issue neutrally and let the facts determine the conclusion. That’s what I did with regard to the library. I independently researched their budget, their utilization numbers, costs of other area local libraries, and commercial construction costs. Every figure I quote is from official sources except for commercial construction costs, which I got from national sources and from speaking with local contractors.

    Allow me to respond to several of your comments, and we’ll see where that takes us.

    A quote from your latest post: “You used the overall budget expenditure to calculate the cost to circulate one item…. you used the same approach to get your cost comparison between library video checkouts and RedBox rentals… ”

    You are correct. I use the entire library budget and I divide that by items circulated. I do that because the overwhelming purpose of the library is circulating books (and other items). It’s not a perfect number, but it’s a darned good number. Further, I’ve examined how many people come to the library for programs and it’s about 10% of the total foot traffic. Even if we assume none of those people take out books, it still means that, functionally, 90% of the library’s budget is for circulating books (and other items). And when you do the math, even using the revised, smaller number, it’s still over $6.00 per item.

    Now, the purpose of government is to do important things, vital things that private enterprise can’t do. Governments aren’t supposed to do trivial things, and especially things that private enterprise readily provides.

    In fact, the purpose of public libraries is written on the side of the first tax-supported public library in Boston: “An educated public is the bulwark of democracy.”

    In other words, libraries were created to educate people at a time when there were few public schools and books were very expensive.

    Libraries weren’t for entertainment. They weren’t for the latest New York Times best seller. They were for serious education of voters about public issues.

    Today we live in a country where public schools are the norm, so library’s original purpose simply doesn’t exist anymore. And most of what libraries do now is lend the latest best sellers and, sadly, the latest blockbuster movies.

    Even if we allow that there is some valid public purpose in having the library circulate mainly literature that people read for fun, can you really argue that it is an important function of government to provide the multiple copies of the latest best sellers in fiction at a cost of more than $6.00 per item circulated?

    Even if you believe that, can you argue the same is true for DVDs of the latest blockbuster hits? I have no problem with the library lending children’s videos, or even some limited selection of videos for adults. But should we take tax dollars to make the latest blockbuster hits available at the library, movies that private enterprise makes available cheaper (RedBox) and more conveniently (NetFlix), and at a much lower cost, literally a fraction of what the library costs taxpayers?

    I have a hard time seeing the vital public interest in making copies of Jurassic World or Avengers: Age of Ultron available through the library at over $6.00 in taxpayer money. Or ultra violent video games like Grand Theft Auto.

    Please explain the vital public purpose in that. Please explain (a) why that’s a vital service and (b) why the taxpayers should subsidize that operation when private enterprise provides the same products at a lower cost.

    That makes as much sense as the Park District building a Putt Putt golf course when there was one in town, and a driving range (that faces west when most people use it in the evening after work) when there are six driving ranges within ten miles of Crystal Lake. Or the Park District operating a banquet hall that competes with D’Andrea and has pretty much killed Old Town Hall on Williams Street.

    Now, as I said above, the point of this dialogue is to find the best solution. So please respond to my points specifically.

    Another quote from your post: “I don’t have the means to check your figures for the downtrends in circulation and foot traffic”

    The figures I quote are from the library’s own statistical report, which you can obtain from the library. I ask you to obtain your own copy and verify my numbers. If you find them to be true, please confirm that on this site.

    And, if so, and usage of the library is trending down quickly and significantly, then explain why we need a library twice as big as what we have, especially if much of what they do is not a service government needs to provide.

    A third quote from your post: “how would you rate the CL library’s building, service, collection, and overall ambience in comparison to other community libraries?”

    I would rate them just as good as the Crystal Lake Library. You can get just as many books (and, sadly, videos) from them as from the Crystal Lake Library. You can use computers there. You can even have meetings there.

    Have you EVER heard of the library board in Crystal Lake asking neighboring libraries how they get by with less? No, you haven’t. The board isn’t watching out for the taxpayers, which is their job. (As trustees, they are to be the check in the check-and-balance system on the bureaucracy, not cheerleaders for the bureaucracy.) The president of the board is a self-described “Champion for a new library.”

    A fourth quote from your post: “Would you support those “professionals” investing $4M to replace the outdated, inefficient HVAC system even if that building (and the new HVAC) might have been torn down and replaced?”

    Bluntly, I don’t trust any figures from the library board or staff. The $9MM figure they quote for repairs equals over $200 per square foot. Brand new construction costs $100 per square foot. We’ve seen this over and over. Boards hire consultants to give them the desired answer, consultants who know which side their bread is buttered on and who are angling for more business.

    MCC hired a manager of health clubs who opined that — surprise — MCC should build a giant health club, and double classroom space, even though average utilization of classrooms was under 50%. Do you find that recommendation credible?

    Prior to that MCC hired a consultant who advised them enrollment would 3% per year for the next 40 years, except that we knew enrollment was going to decline because we could see that enrollment in the schools was declining, with far fewer first graders than high school seniors. Was that recommendation credible?

    Yet I am to believe a consultant hired by the library who says that the needed repairs will cost twice what any private business would pay to build brand new space. Sorry, I don’t buy it. In my business, we call such studies MAI — “Made As Instructed.”

    Have I read the mailings? Yes, all of them. Plus I did substantial research on my own and found that the library consistently put forward a biased, one-sided argument and ignored all the facts that didn’t fit their position. I find such actions to be grossly unethical.

    Did I attend the meetings? No, I didn’t. But when I spoke at the City Council, I heard a gentleman give a speech about the sessions. He said he was a volunteer at the library, so hardly a biased critic. And he said the vote at his table was 7-1 against a new library but that the sessions were clearly run to politic for new construction and not to actually solicit input.

    Finally, what is my proposal for the Crystal Lake Library? Here it is. First, do away with the board. Why does the library have a board? The library is a department of the City, like the Sewer Department or the Fire Department. Why does the Library need a board any more than any other City department?

    Second, look at the library in terms of what it NEEDS to do that is (a) vital and that (b) private enterprise can’t provide, just like you would with any other City department. Can you imagine what would happen if the head of the Sewer department presented such an elaborate, expensive, one-sided proposal for a fancy new sewer treatment plant that provided all kinds of things unrelated to their primary function? That department head would be fired, and for good reason. But not the library!

    Third, look at other local area libraries, find out why they are able to provide essentially identical services with far fewer employers and for far less money. Do you know how much the library has budgeted for fiscal 2017? $4,128,219. Do you know how much is budgeted for new materials? $639,705. 15.5% of their total budget is for buying new materials. $2.9 million, or 70%, goes to wages and group insurance. If you include retirement and other benefits, the figures is much higher.

    In other words, do less.

    Consider this: the issue is not “Do I want a new library”. The issue is “Is a new library so vital that I feel I have the right to raise taxes on everyone else, on old, retired people, on working families struggling to get by?

    That’s a different question, but that’s the right question to ask.

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