Letter to Cherry Valley Public Library District residents

We ask residents of the Cherry Valley Public Library District to vote “Yes” for the library referendum on March 21. Library district voters are being asked to replace the expiring Building Bond tax levy of .062 with an increase of .062 in the library district’s General Fund levy. Your overall library tax rate will not increase over existing levels if you vote “Yes.” There has not been an increase in the General Fund rate since 1978, when the library was created. But the district population is expanding, and library usage is growing tremendously. The library has cut costs and managed operations efficiently to meet these challenges, but this shift of fund dollars is necessary to keep the library open and operating at existing standards.

The Cherry Valley Public Library District has worked very hard to get your input on this issue. Last summer, the library invited an independent group of citizens to review library needs; we were members of that group. Through late summer and fall of 2005, this Citizens’ Study Group (CSG) working with the library, offered public meetings, publicized the issue, and surveyed library district residents. The independent CSG spoke with library officials, reviewed the surveys, attended the public meetings, and did research of its own.

The Citizens’ Study Group found that the library appears to operate very economically, including using grants and book sales to help supplement funding, and that staffing and wage levels are below the median levels for similarly-sized library districts. The library district has 17,000 residents, with more than 100,000 visitors per year to the library. The General Fund is used to pay for the services residents use most: books, technology and open hours. And again, there has not been an increase in the General Fund tax rate since the library was created. The CSG also found that the survey response was clear: library district residents use the library and want the library to continue offering excellent services. So based on the information collected, the Citizens’ Study Group recommended that the library board of trustees put the tax referendum on this March 21 ballot. Members of the CSG did ask library officials to continue examining ways of reducing costs or increasing non-tax-based revenue.

The library district has sought resident input and has encouraged public involvement in this entire process. The library district should be commended on its efforts. Again, please vote “Yes” for the Cherry Valley Public Library District referendum March 21. This is a shifting of tax dollars; your overall library tax rate will not increase over existing levels, and the library will continue to provide the excellent services that you expect. Please visit http://yeslibrary.blogspot.com/ for a presentation regarding library district financials and links to the library district’s Web site.

From the March 15-21, 2006, issue

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