Evanston’s Library Board is scheduled to get a first look at the staff’s proposed budget for 2019 at a special meeting tonight.

Library Director Karen Danczak Lyons declined to discuss details of the budget ahead of tonight’s meeting, but in a presentation a year ago she forecast that the library’s operating budget would increase by 10 percent in 2019, to $8.5 million, from the level she was proposing for 2018.

One factor in that projected increase was the expected mid-year 2019 opening of the planned library branch in the new Robert Crown Community Center that’s now under construction.

Karen Danczak Lyons.

Danczak Lyons initially proposed a 6 percent operating budget increase for 2018, but after aldermen balked at that  boost, the library operating fund spending increase was trimmed to 3 percent for this year.

Aldermen also derailed the library’s plan to spend $10.5 million starting this year to renovate the downtown library, saying that project would have to wait at least until the new Crown Center is completed.

Whether the downtown library renovation project will show up in the 2019 budget proposal is another question to be answered at tonight’s meeting.

Under state law, the library’s budget is set by an independent board appointed by the mayor.

The City Council’s authority is limited to reducing any tax levy the library board proposes, if it exceeds the tax cap approved by voters at a referendum — something the library levy has consistently done in recent years.

Tonight’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Communiyt Meeting Room at the library at 1703 Orrington Ave.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Layoff police and firefighters while library increase 10%

    How in the world can city leaders justify a 10% library budget increase while forecasting police and firefighter layoffs?!? Staffing the debt-ridden, skyrocketing-cost Crown library and rec facility when all other departments are belt tightening is irresponsible and surreal. I’d like to hear a justification by the City Council of these priorities 

    1. Hello …

      If you’d read to the end of the story you’d understand that the City Council has only very limited control over the library’s budget.

      We’ll have to wait and see what the library board adopts, and then see whether the Council approves the taxes to pay for it.

      — Bill

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