"Zero Net Tax Rate Increase" Referendum on the April 4, 2023 Ballot
The Board of Trustees of the Sugar Grove Public Library District voted during the regular board meeting on Wednesday, December 14, to place an operating rate increase question on the April 4, 2023, consolidated election for voters in the District. The building bonds that were issued in 2004 and used to construct the current Library at 125 S. Municipal Drive will be paid off in February 2024. The increase will be equivalent to the amount of debt reduction, resulting in a no-net tax increase that will shift funds used for the bond into operating funds.
Town Hall Referendum Meeting 2/4/23: Youtube Video, Canva Slideshow Presentation
What does this question mean?
- Neither option will make the library tax rate increase.
- If residents vote "Yes", the tax rate would remain the same at .271, and the Library District would receive an increase in operating funds which would allow it to increase hours, take care of deferred maintenance, and build a reserve for upcoming building costs for the 26,000 square foot facility and 5 acres of grounds.
- If residents vote "No", the library tax rate would decrease 54% to .124, and the Library District would be required to reduce hours, programs, books, and services by at minimum 22% in order to keep the library operational.
How is it possible to have a zero net tax rate increase?
- The Library's building construction bond debt, which was issued in 2004 with voter approval, will be paid off in February 2024.
- Once the building is paid off, that tax rate equivalent to .147 or 54% of the total library tax rate goes away.
- If the referendum passes, then the funds that the library currently uses to pay the building bonds (mortgage) will be converted into operating funds (money that can be used to run the Library's operations and services). This referendum question for a limiting rate increase will be on the ballot at the April 4, 2023 Election, and the funds would start to be available for the Library to operate in June 2024, which is when services would begin to increase. The question is for a limiting rate increase and the official ballot will have no reference to the expiring bond debt.
- The Library's tax rate is currently .271 total, and the question will ask voters to keep the tax rate at .271.
- That .271 is made up of a .124 operating tax rate, and a .147 building bond tax rate.
- The tax rate for the bond of .147 will be going away after the building is paid off, so the Board of Trustees is asking residents to convert the .147 into operating tax rate. The District is not asking for a higher rate than what residents are currently paying for library services.
The end total rate would remain at .271 on a property tax bill for the Library. Though the library tax rate would remain the same, the exact dollar amount changes on your property tax bill yearly due to fluctuations in the EAV (Equalized Assessed Value) in Kane County.
How would this referendum impact my tax bill?
- For every 100,000 of home value, the current estimated amount you pay in library taxes is $90 per year.
- If the referendum passes, the tax rate would remain the same.
- If the referendum does not pass, the tax rate would be reduced by $49 per $100,000 of home value. This is same amount of the bond that is going to be paid off in February 2024.
- The average home value in Sugar Grove is $292,000. The current Library tax of .27 for a home with that value is equivalent to $249.29 annually. The operations part of that is a rate of .124 or $113.26, and the rest of the tax rate (.147), equivalent to $136.03, is for debt service.
- If residents vote "Yes" and the referendum passes, the tax rate of .271 would remain the same and the tax bill would be roughly equivalent to $249.29 annually or $20.77 monthly.
- If residents vote "No" and the referendum fails, the tax rate would reduce the tax bill for the library down by $136.03 annually, or a reduction of around $11.33 per month (for a home valued at $292,000). The bill would be reduced from $20.77 monthly to $9.48 monthly.
- Please note: we are discussing the library tax rate, but we have no control over the Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) of Kane County which can also affect your property tax bill.
What is your Library worth?
How much money are you saving by using the library?
The Board of Trustees is asking residents to vote during the upcoming April 4, 2023 consolidated election, because it is the most fiscally responsible time to do so, as the building bonds will be paid off. The referendum question will ask for an increase in the operating fund limiting rate. The rate of the building bond will be reduced by the same amount. This will result in no-net increase to your tax rate.
As stewards of the Library District, the board is responsible for maintaining the taxpayer's $8 million dollar facility. It finds that the inadequate amount of revenue currently received to operate will put the Library into a precarious situation as it does not have the funding to pay for upcoming building needs.
Since the new Library facility opened in 2009, the Library has not had the funding to operate the library full time and had to recently (9/1/22) reduce hours 8% by closing on Sundays. Libraries in the area are typically open for 65 hours a week, and the Sugar Grove Public Library is already only open 46 hours a week, or 30% less than the standard. Should the referendum fail, Library hours would decrease further to 34 hours a week, a 27% reduction in hours, along with a 22% reduction in programs, books, and services.
The Sugar Grove Public Library District tax rate was established in 1963, making it 60 years without an increase to the operating rate.
How we made it here:
During the 2004 election, there were two questions on the ballot for the Sugar Grove Public Library. The question to build the new library passed, but the question to fund the new library failed. The Board of Trustees continued to place the question of operating fund increase to voters at the ballot eleven (11) times between 2004-2014 to get voter approval for an operating tax rate increase. Please click here to view a list of past referendum ballot questions and results.
There have been no further questions on the ballot for the Library in 9 years.
The Library used various methods to keep costs down while offering the most services possible to residents. These included: reduction in hours, utilizing volunteers, applying for grants, and employing an all part time staff with no health insurance or IMRF. Additionally, there has been virtually no way to save for capital needs or afford maintenance on the aging facility.
A capital needs plan estimates the Library will need approximately $600,000 in the next 5-10 years towards maintenance and capital needs for the 26,000 square foot building and 5 acres of land, and over $2 million in the next 20 years. Therefore, the Library can not continue to operate with this level of funding without going into debt or becoming inoperable.
The Sugar Grove Public Library District is an independent taxing body and does not receive funding from the Village of Sugar Grove. The Library District serves 16,114 residents in Sugar Grove, Aurora, Montgomery, Elburn, North Aurora, and Batavia, covering a 37 mile area of land. This means that the Library District has much larger boundaries than the Village of Sugar Grove, and serves 6,836 more residents than the Village. Please see below for the section on Population for links to PDF or online maps.
What will happen to the Library services if the referendum passes with a “Yes” vote?
The Library would receive approximately $818,000 annually in operating funds in addition to its current revenue of 690,000, for an operating revenue of $1,508,00. This increase is roughly the amount of the building bond payment, but it would be moved to operating the library instead of debt service. Our last payment is due February 2024. If the Referendum passes, the Library would start receiving this additional revenue in June 2024, which is when services would increase or resume.
So how would the additional money be used?
- Be Open More Hours, including More Weekend Hours to meet the needs of working families and students. We currently operate at 46 hours a week, while neighboring libraries are open 65 hours. The goal would be to open on Fridays and Sundays.
- Increased Materials Funding and Expanded Programs & Services: This will enable the Library to offer more new and up-to-date books, movies, music, while decreasing wait times for downloadable content. More resources will be available to focus on early literacy skills and making the library accessible to everyone, including those who are homebound, with more outreach services.
- Deferred Maintenance: – The Library can service the building and grounds properly and repair or replace broken and outdated equipment, especially in the areas of technology, HVAC, and exterior building maintenance.
- Long-Term Fiscal Sustainability: The Library will plan for capital maintenance for our 13-year-old building including HVAC repairs, carpet replacement, energy efficient components, parking lot maintenance, window and door replacements, to name a few. The facility is 26,000 square feet on a 5-acre property, more than 4x the size of the prior Library building at 54 Snow Street, which we moved out of in 2009. The Library is unable to save money for future projects.
- Since the Library has deferred maintenance on many areas of building and equipment, more savings revenue will need be spent initially to catch up with the repairs needed to stabilize the library's capital improvement budget.
- Capital Needs Savings would be higher in the first several years in order to rebuild low reserves.
Roughly, the additional funds would be spent as follows:
- Increased Hours of Operation: 55%
- Increased Programs, Books, and Services: 12%
- Deferred Maintenance: 18%
- Save for Capital Needs: 15%
What will happen to library services if the referendum fails with a "No" vote?
If the vote is no, the Library would remain at its 60 year old tax rate which currently produces an operating income of about $690,000. The Library would need to at minimum begin saving $150,000 a year in order to avoid having to close due to facilities costs that would deplete reserves. This $150,000 a year loss would represent about 22% of the District's operating revenue.
It would require the library to:
- Reduce Hours: Library operating hours would reduce even further to 34 operating hours a week, a 27% decrease in hours. The standard benchmark for library operating hours is about 65 hours, so the Sugar Grove Public Library would be operating at 50% the capacity as neighboring libraries.
- Significant Service Decrease and Limited Materials: Reduce materials and programs offered by 50%. Availability of new materials would be further limited, and there would be even longer wait times for new books, movies, music, and downloadable content. The Library District often has waitlisted programs and district residents want more offerings. Patrons often have to order books from other libraries as the District can't fulfill all of the patron's needs. A reduction would even further reduce the Library District's ability to stock our shelves to meet the community’s demand.
- Capital Needs / Building and Facility Maintenance Increase: – Instead of paying for the library to be open with full services, The District would be pay for and save for building and grounds repairs for the aging facility. The Library District would reassign revenue used for hours, staffing, books, and services into maintaining the facility.
Note: As stewards of a publicly funded building, The District must maintain the facility and grounds and avoid going into debt or having to close the Library doors due to unusable spaces and unaffordable repairs. The District must also meet the needs of the community. Currently, the Library District cannot keep up with the demand for increased programs, hours, and services.
How Large of a population does the Sugar Grove Public Library District serve?
Per the 2020 census, there are 16,114 residents of the Sugar Grove Public Library District, from Sugar Grove, Aurora, Montgomery, Elburn, North Aurora, and Batavia, covering a 37 mile area.
The Village of Sugar Grove 2021 Census Population was 9,235. Therefore the Library serves 6,836 more residents than the Village.
View a PDF file of the Sugar Grove Public Library District official map from Kane County GIS office.
Search the Illinois Library District map tool and look up your address.
Is the Sugar Grove Library part of the Village of Sugar Grove?
No. The Sugar Grove Public Library District is an entirely separate taxing body from the Village. Our taxing rate and revenues are independent of any other institution.
See the chart below for the list of taxing bodies you might see on your tax bill if you live in Sugar Grove.
The Sugar Grove Public Library District is governed by a Board of seven Library Trustees who are elected by district residents. Each Trustee serves for four years and the Board is responsible for setting Library Policy and hiring the Library Director. Trustees serve without compensation.
Though the Library receives no funding from the Village of Sugar Grove, it does have a partnership with the Village and other taxing bodies through the Sugar Grove Arts and Entertainment Committee for the Groovin’ in the Grove series.
The graph below details the percentage of an average tax bill for someone living in Sugar Grove. Of the 2.85% of your tax bill that goes to the library, only 46% of that bill goes towards operating the library. The other 54% currently goes to pay the building bond. This bond will fall away naturally after our last payment in February 2024. If the Library referendum is successful, this percentage would remain the same, or about 3% of your tax bill. If the referendum fails, our percentage would go down by over half, or about 1.5% of your tax bill.
Didn’t the library have a tax rate increase when the new building was constructed in 2009?
Yes, the voters approved bonds to pay for the construction of the current library facility at 125 Municipal Drive in 2004. These bonds are very similar to how a home mortgage works. These bonds, or the library's mortgage, are paid for by levying for a construction bond tax rate. The bonds will be paid off in full as of February 2024, so the library will no longer be collecting for the construction bond tax.
Although the construction bonds were approved by voters, an increased operating tax rate to run a larger building was never passed. Therefore, the Library operates on a tax rate that was established in 1963 and was intended to fund the a much smaller previous facility that was 25% of the size of our current library.
The Library has not had a voter approved operational tax increase since the Sugar Grove Public Library District was founded 1963.
Please click here to view a list of past referendum ballot questions and results.
How is the Sugar Grove Public Library District Funded?
95.7% of library funds come from property taxes. The remaining 4.3% is received from impact fees, overdue fines, donations and grants.
What will the ballot question say?
Shall the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for the Sugar Grove Public Library District, Kane County, Illinois, be increased by an additional amount equal to 0.147% above the limiting rate for library purposes for levy year 2021 and be equal to 0.271% of the equalized assessed value of the taxable property therein for levy year 2023? Yes or No
- The approximate amount of taxes extendable at the most recently extended limiting rate is $690,107, and the approximate amount of taxes extendable if the proposition is approved is $1,508,217.
- For the 2023 levy year the approximate amount of the additional tax extendable against property containing a single family residence and having a fair market value at the time of the referendum of $100,000 is estimated to be $49.
- If the proposition is approved, the aggregate extension for 2023 will be determined by the limiting rate set forth in the proposition, rather than the otherwise applicable limiting rate calculated under the provisions of the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (commonly known as the Property Tax Cap Law).
Note: This question does not reflect any information about the zero/no-net tax increase, because this is the required wording per Illinois State Statute.
Aren't staff in the Library all volunteers?
The library is very grateful for the many volunteers that assist us! That being said, all library staff members are paid for their work. At least 30% of our staff have advanced degrees in the library field, holding a Master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences.
All staff members including the Library Director work 30 hours a week or less, and do not receive health insurance or a pension. The Library is not a part of IMRF (Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund). Staff receive a small HSA stipend and life insurance.
What has the Library Done to Keep Costs Down Over the Last 13 years ?
- Refinanced the building bond in 2014, saving taxpayers almost 1 million dollars.
- Applied for and received grants for new equipment, books, and projects (on average $20k per year)
- Utilized volunteers when available for shelving, grounds, and building maintenance assistance
- Reduced hours of operation to 46 hours, when the standard for area libraries is 65 hours.
- Deferred maintenance of systems and equipment
- Deferred repair of broken equipment and windows
- Employed an all part-time staff. Managers and Director work part-time at 30 hours per week.
- Health insurance is not offered to employees
- Employees do not receive pensions and the Library doesn't participate in IMRF (Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund)
- Utilized Library consortium memberships to lower the cost of services and improve access to materials
- Used the lowest cost and most budget friendly service providers for the maintenance of our facility and grounds.
- Reduced janitorial services to once per week.
Should voters vote "No", the Library will have to reduce hours, staffing, books, and programs by at least 22% in order to care for the facility and keep it from becoming inoperable.
How does Sugar Grove Public Library District’s funding compare to libraries in neighboring communities?
Sourcing information from the Illinois Public Library Annual Report from the Illinois State Library, you can see how we compare to our neighboring libraries. Our library tax rate is lower than most area libraries that have comparable building size and population served.
Why do you show comparisons on a 100,000 house?
The $100,000 fair market value is taken directly out of the referendum questions on the ballot. The District has no choice in how the questions is worded as the wording comes from the County Clerk and is regulated by Illinois State Statute.
However, the average home value in Sugar Grove is $292,000, and the current Library tax for a home with that value is equivalent to $250. If the referendum passes, the tax rate would remain the same. If the referendum fails, the tax rate would reduce the tax bill for the library down to $135 annually, or a reduction of around $11.25 per month (for home valued at $292,000).
Why aren’t you asking for bonds instead of an operating tax rate increase?
An operating tax increase is a set rate change, whereas bonds require taxpayers to pay interest during time of repayment, similar to a home mortgage. Our facility needs long-term maintenance and a rate increase helps to prepare for that. While ensuring building maintenance issues are attended to, the library will be able to maintain materials and program budgeting levels. By avoiding bonds, the library will also save taxpayers money since no interest will be involved from borrowing monies.
Why aren't you asking for less money than the amount of the building bond?
The Library evaluated costs for increasing service hours, programs, maintaining the facility, and creating a capital reserves fund. The amount we found to need was slightly higher than the amount of the building bond, but the Library Board of Trustees wanted to be the most fiscally responsible. The amount we are asking for is adequate and not excessive. We will be able to provide stability to library operations for decades to come with this operating rate increase.
Can I See More Information About the Library's Finances?
Who do I call if I want more information?
Please call Library Director Genna Mickey at 630-409-1568 or email email@example.com.
How Else Can I Learn More About this?
Library Town Hall: April 4th Referendum Information
- Library officials and consultants will present information about the upcoming ballot question during the April 4, 2023 consolidated election for the library’s operating tax rate. Meetings will be held in the Library's large meeting room C. There are two meeting opportunities: