Evanston aldermen are scheduled to vote Monday on trimming the proposed library tax levy as they wrap up action on the city’s 2018 budget.

The proposed change would cut the library’s tax levy to be paid by property owners next year from $6.96 million to $6.76 million.

The library levy for this year’s budget was $6.41 million. So the change would reduce the increase over this year from 8.6 percent to 5.4 percent.

The city’s appointed library board has sharply increased its tax-funded spending over the last several years, from $4.2 million in 2013, to what it originally proposed as $6.9 million next year. That amounts to a nearly 62 percent increase over the six-year period.

Meanwhile, the library’s revenue from user fees, grants and other sources has grown only about 10 percent in the same period.

After aldermen at their last meeting complained that the library’s spending plan was too rich, the library board last week voted to cut a planned $140,000 purchase automotive equipment next year and trim $45,000, or about 13 percent, from its planned spending on internet services as well as making some other, relatively minor, budget adjustments.

Under state law, the City Council can’t specify how the library board spends its money, but it can reduce the total library tax levy whenever it exceeds a voter-referendum approved tax cap, as it has over the past several years.

As for the rest of the city budget, the aldermen are scheduled to adopt a revised plan for reorganizing the social services program currently housed in the Police Department and moving it to the Health Department.

The new plan would create two full-time and two part-time positions in the Health Department and move the youth advocate position to the Parks Department.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says the new plan will save $278,000 over the cost of the equivalent programs this year.

Another last-minute budget change is a 1 percent increase in the athletic tax, which is expected to bring in an additional $80,000 in revenue.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Cut Too Small

    You would think that the city council would have enough courage to cut at least another point. The library board and their leader have been spending like drunken sailors for several years. This is not Chicago. They don’t need all these branches. They should concentrate on the main library building and cutting unnecessary staff. They can trade the wasted money for the branches for an added bookmobile.

    1. Skokie?

      Send some city people to Skokie to observe..that’s exactly what they have done. They also, fyi, have many Evanston residents using their facility…I would imagine that Wilmette does as well.

    2. Close the Extra Library Branches
      I agree with your comments. I’d like to know how much money the library could save by eliminating the real estate expenses, staff, and everything else associated with supporting multiple library branches in Evanston. Concentrate on the main library as every other suburb does.

      1. Who REALLY uses the branches

        Questions that have not been answered. Parents should inform their alderman and Library Board.

        1. Which library do or would their kids go to and would if a branch is put in Crown ? Why do they go to the library they do—study resources or meet with friends ?

        2. Do the Main or branches have the books, reference personnel [including “light” tutoring they would need ?

        3. Do students go to the libraries to read/study or meet with friends or other “non-academic” purposes ?

        4. Do they go to the library after school ends ? after dinner ?  How late ? Do parents even want their kids out or traveling after dinner or more so after dark ? If the branches were even open evenings would kids go ?  Given the limited, one day a week, the branches  are open, evening study hours is a made-up argument.

    3. Cut Too Large

      Evanston should be investing much more money in its libraries, not cutting back, If you look at Chicago, the far north side has 3-4 libraries in an area similar to the size of Evanston. Skokie spends about twice as much per person on its library as Evanston, even though they only have one building. So it seems like having branches is not a massive expense, and it’s a substantial benefit. This also indicates that Evanston’s spending on the library has been too little for too long, so these seemingly big increases are only beginning to get Evanston up to the level of our neighbors. If the city council can identify some wasteful spending at the library, then they should say so, and not just cut spending on a vital community resource.

      1. But we have NU

        Skokie  and Wilmette don’t have NU’s library, though they are free to use it. Many in Evanston do use NU instead of or supplement to EPL.

        Sadly though as NU ships books to their warehouse out of the county and closes the library for far more days than we see at Univ. of Chicago,  that may not be true for long. UofC is open days after Thanksgiving, Christmas and Winter Break][. UofC is school that still is a Research library where student, faculty and researcher need books. in contrast ot NU becoming a Teaching university. But then I guess has tonns of music, theater and sports facilities—a trade off I don’t think is part of what makes a great university..

      2. Library Spending

        Library Budget for 2017 is about 11,500,000 about  $159.00 per person based on 75,000 population. But only property owners pay so each owner pays more than his fair share. 

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