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Library branches get 6-month reprieve

Evanston aldermen Wednesday changed their minds yet again and voted 5-4 to give branch library supporters until Aug. 31 to raise enough funds to make the branches self supporting.

The aldermen had voted 6-3 on Monday to close the branches Feb. 28, after voting Jan. 23 to direct the city manager to find other spending cuts that could pay for another year of branch library operation.

How much the library supporters would actually have to raise to keep the branches open remained unclear after the vote. Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, initially suggested that $50,000 might be sufficient, but Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, suggested that fulling covering the nearly half-million dollar operating cost of the branches would be required.

Others, including Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, suggested the separate funding solution would need to address the lack of branch libraries in some city neighborhoods, while Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, suggested that special service area taxing districts targeting the neighborhoods served by the branches might be the only viable funding solution.

The aldermen could yet again revise their position on the branches before taking a final vote on the budget, which now is tentatively scheduled for next Monday’s council meeting.

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