Dear Oak Park Library Board,

My understanding is that the library has been operating without inordinate financial stress, and that debt from building the library will be paid off in 2020. If the debt payments have been running about $1 million per year, the library will continue to receive in perpetuity the tax money that had been paying that debt with no new cost against it once the debt is paid off. The Library Board should abate taxes by about $1 million given the end of construction debt.

Instead you choose to keep the $1 million per year, every year, in perpetuity that you are no longer spending on debt, and you are asking for a roughly 9.98 percent levy increase (about $700,000) related to the end of various TIFs. 

A 9.98 percent levy increase is tone deaf, irresponsible, harmful to many residents, and unnecessary. As a board you have a fiduciary duty to resident taxpayers to manage library finances, not a fiduciary duty to the library to maximize revenue. Please revisit your revenue stream, reconsider the end of construction debt and the meaning of that on what you want to fund. I’ve read you are looking at $900,000 or so in new spending initiatives; would the money not spent on debt be the source of that, rather than fracking more money out of an already overburdened and angry taxpayer?

Lastly, please do not rationalize this as 9.9 percent being only $50 or $100 per year per household. With the library, park district, District 97, District 200, Oak Park Township and the village continually making that rationalization each and every year, that “measly” $50-$100 becomes $300-$600 per year in perpetuity, which is how we see taxes rising by those amounts year after year after year, and how we get to deflated home values and people being forced to sell what they can’t afford anymore because of chronic boards’ spending indiscipline. The library does not tax in a vacuum.

Jack Powers

Oak Park

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