Addressing DeKalb Public Library’s proposed 14%-plus levy increase


During DeKalb’s public hearing on its property tax levy, which includes the library’s levy, several people spoke out about the library’s plan to increase its take by more than 14%. They requested the city council hold library trustees accountable for the request, which they view as irresponsible.

DeKalb claims that it must approve any levy the library puts forward, but this isn’t entirely true. While the city must approve levies that lie within the library’s statutory authority under the Local Library Act, it has no obligation to extend home rule authority to allow the library to exceed statutory limitations, such as PTELL, that library districts and municipal libraries in non-home rule communities must follow.

Does the library’s proposed levy follow state regulations, or not? Seems like that’s an important question to answer before proceeding.

Even if the requested levy somehow doesn’t exceed state-level tax restraints, the situation is shaping up to become a political embarrassment for our elected representatives. Positive PR over DeKalb’s own proposed levy, which is favorable to taxpayers, could get lost in public outrage over the library’s and it was clear from the hearing that residents will ultimately hold the city responsible for the outcome.

Mayor Barnes appears to understand this, and he said the city is in talks with the library. Perhaps a closer examination of the library’s plans to accumulate some of the new funds would be a good place to start, as it feeds the perception of greed.

They’ve got until December 13 to reach a compromise, when the city council plans to cast its final vote on the levy.