CL Library Referendum Post Card Arrives

This post card was sent by the Crystal Lake Public Library to inform people of the impact of passing the advisory referendum asking the City Council to borrow $30.1 million.

This post card was sent by the Crystal Lake Public Library to inform people of the impact of passing the advisory referendum asking the City Council to borrow $30.1 million.

Saturday a post card from the Crystal Lake Library arrived.

As I look at it, I see it doesn’t say, “Vote Yes.”

That means it was not financed with private campaign funds from he Crystal Lake Library YES Committee, as were the signs shown in a story published Saturday.

The return address says it comes from the Crystal Lake Library.

It was paid for with tax dollars out of the Library’s budget and provides information about the referendum, including that it will cost an extra $132 a year for the owner of an average $200,000 home in Crystal Lake.

The mailing points out that is “36 cents a day.”

The way to find out how much your home will pay is provided by the Library here.

I stuck in the estimated value of our home, found on, and discovered, if I lived in Crystal Lake, my tax bill would increase $243.07.

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 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.

I guess I got the mailing because the Library sends its information to everyone on my carrier route, a lot of which is within the Crystal Lake City limits.

We live in Lakewood so I’m indifferent to whether Crystal Lakers decide they want their taxes to increase or not.


CL Library Referendum Post Card Arrives — 28 Comments

  1. It should not be a matter of indifference; when any taxing district in the County raises rates it causes home values to drop .

    (This is because our tax rates are so high above everywhere other than here, the ‘value’ of new library is crushed by the destructive influence of 2% higher cost of carry on most people’s largest investment).

    When home values drop in crystal Lake, all other homeowners in McHenry County must pay a larger share of countywide taxes.

  2. Don’t vote for any bond referendum unless the taxing district provides:

    1. the estimated annual principal, interest, and total payments for the life of the proposed bonds.


    Year – Principal – Interest – Total
    2017 – $500,000 – $10,000 – $510,000
    2018 – $510,000 – $10,200 – $520,200

    2. If there are any existing bonds, the existing annual bond debt service schedule, which should be provided in the same format as indicated above.

    3. All the powerpoint presentations and other documentation the consultant provided the taxing district about the referendum.

    That all should be in one prominently displayed section of the taxing district website.

    The information should be easy to locate and easy to understand.

    If it’s not, vote no.

  3. In this case, don’t vote for any advisory referendum unless the taxing district provides the above information.

    And they should actually provide more than that.

    They should also provide information about pension and retiree healthcare underfunding.

    The annual contributions to the pensions and retiree healthcare should be shown for the last five years at least in dollars.

    Have the contributions been increasing, decreasing, or flat?

    And, the unfunded pension liability (or net pension liability) should be show for the last five years at least in dollars.

    Is the unfunded pension liability (taxpayer IOU to the pension fund) increasing or remaining even?

    All to often, pension contributions are increasing, the unfunded liability percent is remaining constant, but the unfunded liability in dollars is increasing.

    One huge problem with the Crystal Lake Library advisory referendum, in addition to the above information not being provided, is the Library is in the Village taxing district, and the village has huge unfunded police and fire pensions (taxpayer IOU to police and fire pension fund).

    So why is the village proposing to build a new library if police and fire pensions are underfunded and the underfunding in dollars has been increasing, not decreasing?

    Look at the Illinois Department of Insurance Public Pension Division 2015 Biennial Report (2013 – 2014) to learn the status and history of the City of Crystal Lake Downstate Police and Downstate Fire pensions.

    Look at the City of Crystal Lake Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) to locate the net pension liability (GASB 68 required information), which is roughly equal to unfunded pension liability, for the IMRF, Downstate Police, and Downstate Fire pension funds for the City.

    The Crystal Lake Fire Pension Fund is $12 Million underfunded as of April 30, 2014 (the most recently available information in the most recent Illinois Department of Insurance Report).

    The Crystal Lake Police Pension Fund is $23 Million underfunded as of April 30, 2014.

    The IMRF pension information is found in the CAFR, that may also be underfunded.

    So $35 Million or so is the taxpayer IOU to the pension fund (aka unfunded liability) and the unfunded liability has been increasing, not decreasing, so whatever plan they have in place for paying down the unfunded liability is not decreasing the unfunded liability.

    The taxpayer pension IOU hole for Crystal Lake Police and Fire pensions is getting deeper year after year.

    That’s like your unpaid credit card balance has been growing for years, and you buy something additional, creating a larger unpaid balance.

    For Crystal Lake Police, the unfunded pension liability was $12M on April 30, 2005.

    For Crystal Lake Police, the unfunded pension liability was $23M on April 30, 2014.

    M = Million.

    Those are rounded numbers.

    For Crystal Lake Fire, the unfunded pension liability was $4.5M on April 30, 2005.

    For Crystal Lake Fire, the unfunded pension liability was $11.9M on April 30, 2014.


    Democrat Jack Franks claims he has a plan to reduce Crystal Lake property taxes 10% in his campaign pitch for County Board Chair for the November 8, 2016 election though he does not mention the Crystal Lake Police and Fire pension unfunded liability history and problems.

  4. Susan – I don’t know if a new modern library will actually lower your house value, but I do know it will make it more attractive to people who can afford to buy it.

    Mark – These are numbers the Library Board cannot supply you. The City of Crystal Lake will issue the bonds if the referendum passes, and I think those numbers will be based on decisions they will have to make at that time.

    And Cal – You should know better than to use your Zillow-estimated home value. The tax calculator clearly states that your increased tax will be based on the Fair Cash Value of you home, which is printed on your tax bill. I guarantee you that figure will be less than the one you used. And don’t forget to check the boxes if you have a Homestead or Elderly Exemption, which will further lower the estimate and give you a more accurate figure.

  5. BS

    Some financial person better have estimated the figures or they are completely incompetent.

    Vote no based on that comment.

  6. The post card says:

    Focus on the Future

    Crystal Lake Public Library

    New Library on November 8 ballot

    Learn the Facts Before you Vote!

    Take the Tour

    Take a self-guided tour to see a model of the proposed building and challenges with the current building.

    Calculate your tax impact at

    The proposed plan will cost a homeowner of the City of Crystal Lake (a home with a $200,000 Fair Cash Value) 36 cents a day, $11 per month, $132 a year.

    Calculate your personal investment at

    Crystal Lake Public Library, 815-459-1687,

    Your Community Place for Lifelong Learning.


    126 Paddock Street, Crystal Lake, IL 60014″


    There is no way the financial guru who calculated the cost to a $200,000 homeowner is $132 a year without estimating bond interest.

    The same financial person should be able to calculate, or find someone that can calculate, the annual bond principal, interest, and total payment schedule to bondholders for the life of the bonds, as described above.


    So the village or library or someone estimated the cost per day to fund the library.

    Then they can estimate the cost per day to fund police, fire, and IMRF pensions too.

    So where is that cost?

    Add that to the list of required items before deciding to vote yes on the referendum.

    Otherwise just vote not.

    It’s your wallet they want.

  7. With Illinois 8,000 + or – taxing districts saying it only costs “36 cents a day” before you know it, it will be in the thousands.

    Vote NO, our taxes are outrageous.

    We can’t have everything!

  8. They just keep trying to get our $$ and do not understand the word NO, use the internet!

    We can’t afford you anymore…

    hunker down like the rest of the common man has been and must do to survive!

    in this horrible state / town!

  9. When my family moved to CL in 1975 we made sure that we had access to a good library.

    We know that, among other amenities, a good library can attract home buyers and help raise home values.

    CL has changed a lot in the last 41 years and unfortunately our library has not kept up.

    It would be a waste of taxpayer money to spend 9 million fixing the current building.

    We would be faced with the same question in a few years – sink more money into this building or invest in a new modern library.

    Interest rates are low.

    I’ll vote YES for a new library.

    I know that this YES vote is an investment for my grandchildren, my family and for a better Crystal Lake.

  10. Assessments are in flux. The new ones have not come out in Algonquin Township.

  11. No, it’s not, Terri.

    They don’t even have books at the library anymore.

    In 1974 it was full of books.

    It was a great place to do research.

    Not anymore.

    You will be voting for a handfull of oligarchs to keep their jobs, which is to shovel more of your money into a fiasco.

  12. Tax RATES are the relevant number.

    CL property tax Rates are far above national average.

    This means the cost of carry (annual household income expenditure necessary to retain any ownership interest in a home) is percentage points higher than living most other places .

    This cost of carry is capitalized into home values.

    The higher the rate, property values sink.

    So not only local citizens lose thousands in real dollars each year relative to living elsewhere , they lose a similar amount of home equity value annually.

    Let’s frame the value set of this demand for $30 million plus interest plus 2.5% bond finance fees properly:

    A few people are willing to put their own narrowly selfish desires above the survival needs of most of their fellow citizens.

    I would call this sociopathic savagery.

  13. Wow, Mark. You sure know a lot about taxes, or it seems like you do.

    You sound like you know more than I do, but I’m pretty sure I know more about our library than you do — and Crystal Lake needs a new one.

    And yes, the public will have to pay for it.

    It is and will continue to be their library.

    So it comes down to deciding what each person wants for their city and what they’re willing to pay to have it.

    Spending nothing on the current building is really not an option, as repairs are needed now and more will be needed in the future.

    Spending the $9.1M we’ve been told will fix it up, is a short-term solution which doesn’t give us anything new nor eliminate the ongoing issues.

    We’ll be right back here again in 10 years, and the solutions will cost even more.

    If we invest $30.1M now, the citizens of CL will get a bigger, better, modern library that will give not just them, but their kids and grandchildren, the kind of library service other towns take for granted.

  14. It’s clear most of you writing here are opposed to any increase to our taxes.

    But this library thing is like owning an older home or car.

    I loved my first car and it served me well, and I repaired it as needed for many years to keep it running.

    But eventually the engine and transition needed major work, the brakes were scraping, and the tires were worn, and the body had rust spots.

    I also realized it was now kind of small for my growing family, and our needs had changed. (I wanted a better stereo, a CD player rather than cassettes.)

    I also realized that putting any more money into that car would be stupid of me.

    We had to stretch ourselves a bit, but a new, larger, updated car was the smart thing to do for my family.

    Perhaps a corny comparison, but it’s really similar to the current state of our library in CL.

  15. What transparent, condescending sophistry.

    Where is evidence supporting “need”–as well as cost benefit analysis— that $9 million MUST be spent no matter what?

  16. Sorry Bill, as Susan JUST wrote, the NEED
    Is NOT THERE !

    To continue to BURDEN a substantial number
    Of TAXPAYERS who can’t afford this addition
    To their taxes is OBNOXIOUS .

    This is a WANT for a FEW, not a NEED for the MANY.

    Suck it up & learn to be thankful for what you
    Have, because the rest of us are tired of paying
    For these rarely if ever used services.

  17. I see there are library people trying to post in here.

    Nobody is buying your crap.

    We don’t NEED any library.

    (And that is coming from a librarian! It’s true. I WAS once.)

  18. Perhaps libraries should now be privatized.

    Those who want or need these services can take their real estate tax savings (now applied to the portion of their tax bill that supports the library) and purchase a membership.

    Running a library like a business in the private sector would be more economical, and the need for a large building with all the bells and whistles would be eliminated.

    Private enterprises typically know how to live within their means and make purchasing and hiring decisions with care and restraint.

    Are the librarians at the Crystal Lake Library going to draw a pension?

    A privately funded library would eliminate this tax burden.

    I have read many statistics indicating that fewer people are using library services and the need is shifting.

    In many ways, libraries are becoming a relic.

    I would like to see the library put a few band-aids on their problems and wait to see the trend and need in a few years.

    If visits continue to fall, the writing is on the wall and we will all feel better that we didn’t spend 30 million for an underused relic.

  19. Well put michelle .

    If the library were a private business
    Things would be a lot different.

    Renting movies is just not a reason
    To spend $40 million for a brand new building.

    Libraries just don’t have a valid role
    Anymore in this informational society.

    We pay cable tv, wi fi & data plan charges
    On smart phones now which costs people
    A fair amount of money every month.

    A FEW PEOPLE want to make a poor choice
    To add to EVERYONE’s collective debt.

    Let those people carry the FINANCIAL BURDEN
    For their OWN WANT & leave the rest of us alone.

    This isn’t that different of an issue than
    The Dole Mansion was.

  20. Love how they say it will only raise your taxes $132. a year but when you take into account that the city will also raise taxes and both school districts, MCC and the county and the countless other bodies we are taxed for. In the end adding another hundred or two to an already outrageous tax bill is just something I can not afford to agree to. Sorry.

  21. City of Crystal Lake employees including librarians are in the IMRF pension fund, with the exception of police and fire, whom are in the Crystal Lake Downstate Police and Crystal Lake Downstate Fire pension funds which are part of the city.


    Vote no for the advisory Crystal Lake library referendum based on inadequate disclosures as indicated in my comments above.


    The Crystal Lake library has the book Illinois Pension Scam by Bill Zettler.


    Crystal Lake property taxpayers would pay top dollar to construct or repair the library due to state mandated prevailing wage laws.

    Illinois prevailing wage laws are a huge unfunded state mandate on state and local government in Illinois.

    Read the Governor Bruce Rauner Administration’s Turnaround Agenda to learn about prevailing wages in Illinois.


  22. Previous typo correction.

    There is no way the financial guru who calculated the cost to a $200,000 homeowner is $132 a year did so without factoring in the estimated bond interest.


    There is no good reason the City of Crystal Lake and library district cannot present to voters the debt annual service schedule for the bond principal, estimated interest, and estimated total payments (principal + interest); for the lifetime of the proposed bonds.


    Don’t finance anything anything (house, car, library, school, etc.) unless being presented with the principal, interest, and total payment (principal and interest) schedule.

    In the case of bond referendums, the interest is estimated.

    So, in the case of estimated interest how about three payment schedules, that being, low, best guess, and high.

    None the less, the $132 a year per $200,000 Fair Cash Value on a home figure included estimated bond interest rate(s).

    What was the estimated bond interest rate(s) that were used?

    That should be disclosed to voters.

    Why is the estimated bond interest rate(s) used to calculate the $132 a year per Fair Cash Value on a $200 home figure?

    Why is the estimated bond interest rate not being disclosed?

  23. Is the donor for pro-referendum literature in the running for bond issuer award?

    That is a large chunk of money to the underwriter.

    Shouldn’t financial disclosures include those touting the referendum but receiving financial benefits if deal goes through?

  24. I don’t think so.

    I believe I was told he works or worked for Sage Products.

  25. We need better disclosure for bond and bond advisory referendums.

    Way better disclosure.

    The taxpayers are not being given enough information to make an informed decision.

    Probably because those in the know believe such disclosure would result in fewer votes.

    And they are probably correct.

  26. Another possibility is some of those in the know fear a negative consequence from more disclosure to taxpayers during bond and bond advisory referendums.

    Along the lines of little to personally gain and much to lose.

    Related to its cousin, concentrated benefits and diffused costs.

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