Thursday, February 1, 2007

30 Cents a Day

Whenever residents of a community vote on a local referendum issue, the decisions they make are usually based on their perceptions of the value of the proposed initiative as it relates to the estimated cost. So it is that when you go to vote on the library referendum on April 17, you may well have one important question on your mind—how much will a vote for a new library cost me and my family? It may surprise you to learn that for the average resident of the village, the cost per household will be as little as 30 cents a day or about $9 a month. We have collected some information here to help you to see how tax rates in Carol Stream compare to those in neighboring communities and to illustrate the financial impact that the referendum will have on an average family.

Equalized Assessed Value: As you know, the operating budgets of each of the public entities in the village are determined by tax revenues, and each has a specific tax rate. The current tax rate for the Carol Stream Public Library is .25 %. That means that village taxpayers pay 25 cents for each $100 of the equalized assessed value of their homes or properties. It is important to point out that this rate has not gone up for 21 years. The members of the Library Board and management staff have been extremely frugal stewards of taxpayer money, but it should seem clear to all that no business or public agency can continue to offer quality services if the source of available funds does not keep pace with the rest of the economy.

Here is a chart showing the current tax rates for the libraries in several neighboring communities. You can see that Carol Stream is at the bottom of the chart:

Cost of a New Library: The referendum asks taxpayers to approve a total of $25 million, a figure that may be overwhelming at first glance until you begin to examine it at a personal level. Remember first that this total will be financed over a twenty year period. If the referendum is approved, the library tax rate will be increased by 14 cents for each $100 of assessed value. Analysts have told us that the average home value in the village is $250,000, and so, as noted above, the increase for a typical family would be about 30 cents a day or about $9 a month—the cost of one small cheese pizza or a ticket to a movie or a lunch at a fast food restaurant each month.

The important thing to remember is that a modern and well-equipped library brings tremendous value to a community that more than compensates for construction and operating expenses. Parents with school children have daily access to all of the books and materials that may not be available in the school libraries, and they have the opportunity to enroll their children in a variety of reading programs and activities. Residents without children also see tremendous advantages since the values of their homes and properties are generally enhanced and the economic prospects for the entire village become stronger. That's a lot of value for 30 cents a day.

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