Where do we get the money to run this place?
A few months ago, in June, the Library’s Board of Trustees passed the budget for the new budget year which began on July 1st. There are all sorts of items considered in the budget including salaries and benefits, books, DVDs, online database subscriptions, day-to-day maintenance of the property, etc. This year the budget also included a significant capital project plan totaling nearly $2 million and included items like replacing the roof on the Library (almost 40,000 square feet), replacing the computer network which is nearly 8 years old, and several other smaller projects.
The total budget is $8,416,671 of which $1,971,648 is for capital projects leaving $6,445,023 for the day-to-day operations at the Library. All of the people at the various desks around the Library helping to answer your questions, deciding which books and other things to buy, keeping the Library clean and safe, conducting storytimes, helping you check items out, etc. are considered to be day-to-day operations. Day-to-day operations also includes everything that goes on behind the scenes. All of these activities are funded primarily through property taxes.
Once a year, the Library Board decides how much to ask Cook County to put on the tax bills of all of the property in the Library District. That process starts around now and must end by the end of November. Going back to 2015, the Library has raised its Property Tax Levy request by 2.1% in total over the last four years. That is about 0.5% a year on average. The cost of operations of the Library has grown by 7.4% over the same period of time or about 1.9% per year. So expenses are growing faster than the property taxes used to pay for them. In the 2015 budget year, the Library budgeted $6,001,076 for its day-to-day operations which is 7.4% less than the $6,445,023 budgeted for the current budget year.
Have you ever wondered how the Library pays for capital projects?
The Library saves over a long period of time leading up to pay for projects like replacing the roof. When the Library collects more money than what it costs to fund day-to-day operations for a year, the surplus is put aside for long term repairs of the building and its equipment. An excellent example of this is when the Library was able to renovate the entire building for $5.5 million without having to borrow any money and pay it back with interest. The money for the renovation was saved over a very long time. This is a sound way to plan and pay for big expenditures. So, no part of the Property Tax Levy in a specific year that goes to pay for capital projects.
Of course, everyone is always invited to attend the Niles-Maine District Library Board of Trustees meetings held the third Wednesday of every month at 7:00 p.m. in the Board Room on the third floor of the Library.