Library Budget Woes

Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings has ranked the Naperville Public Library System number one in the nation for the last ten years. Library officials have kept that ranking despite cutting their budget by $2 million since 2009. Even with that, Naperville city council members have asked library officials to trim more.

“You can always reduce further,” said Marcia Lebeau, Administrative Director for the Naperville Public Library. “The issue ends up being if you can’t have what the public wants or asks for, they stop coming.”

90% of the library’s revenue comes from the Naperville’s property taxes. This year library officials reduced that request by $400,000. But city council members decided to reduce the overall tax levy by $1,250,000, which means a $25 reduction for each Naperville homeowner.

“With falling property values, residents are expecting to see a reduction in their property tax bill,” said Karen DeAngelis, Finance Director for the City of Naperville.

But to make this reduction work, council members want further budget cuts from groups funded by the property tax, including the library system.

“Certainly that’s been looked at throughout all of the city departments, and in a way, it’s treating all of them equally,” said Councilman Judith Brodhead.

The library’s board of directors recommends city council not cut any more of the library’s levy request. They’ve found about $200,000 they can compromise on, but any more than that and they will be talking severe cuts.

“We’ve gotten into the bone and the meat of the operations now,” said Lebeau. “Further reductions end up getting into something much more serious and that means more staff layoffs. More staff layoffs would have to equate to closing the library certain hours.”

The library board is also considering furlough days as an alternative, which means the library could close as many as five additional days each year.

City council members will discuss the library board’s recommendations at their next budget meeting. A final decision doesn’t have to be made until March.

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