The Evanston Public Library Board is scheduled to hold a public hearing Wednesday evening on a proposed 2023 budget that calls for increasing spending 7% to $10.5 million.

The library staff is proposing three different options for funding the spending plan. They range from keeping the tax levy flat and dipping deep into general fund reserves to a $10.9% tax increase that would avoid reducing reserves.

The library board has adopted a policy that calls for keeping between four and six months of total spending in reserve.

With no tax hike for 2023, the reserve balance would fall to just 33% — fractionally below the minimum target.

The library staff anticipates that most of the spending increase will come from boosting pay for library employees by 6.42%.

That increase is driven both by a recent city compensation study that suggests many library employees are underpaid and by the anticipated results of union contract talks now underway.

The budget proposes no reduction in library services, and contains projections showing that even with 4% tax levy increases over the next several years the library’s reserves would still fall below the target level by 2025.

The board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and will be held online.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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