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Your Library 2020 and Beyond

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Update

On December 17, 2019, the Aurora City Council passed a $14.7 million levy for the Aurora Public Library.  This increase will allow us to buy more materials, improve our branches, and serve the community better for years to come. We welcome you to stay up to date with our improvements by visiting this page as we continue to update you with new information. Thank you for your continued support of your library.

Our proposal

An increase to the levy from $12.5 million dollars to $14.7 million dollars. We hope you will support us as we plan to ensure the future of the Aurora Public Library and to improve facilities and services. We will add more materials and improve our 20+ year old branches. This increase will prevent future layoffs, service reductions and delays in necessary expenditures.

How will this affect your taxes?

Compared to our neighbors

What will change? 

  • Buy MORE books, movies, downloadables and more

  • Set aside money for IMPROVEMENTS every year

  • INCREASE our savings for emergencies

  • RESPOND to the minimum wage increase

Take action!

  • Share your thoughts. Complete our survey here or email us at board@aurorapubliclibrary.org

  • Share this infromation with your friends, neighbors, family and library users.

  • Attend our community meetings:

    • Santori Library - 11/13 at 7pm

    • West Branch - 11/14 at 7pm

    • Eola Road Branch - 11/16 at 2pm

    • Biblioteca Santori (en español) -11/21 at 7 pm

View our complete presentation below

Frequently Asked Questions

Please click on the question you would like the answer for. A drop down with the answer to that question will appear.

If you need more information email our board at board@aurorapubliclibrary.org, or the director at michaela@aurorapubliclibrary.org, or give us a call at 630-264-4106. 

    • The board’s role won’t change much.  The board’s responsibilities include hiring a qualified library director, setting the library’s policies, setting the library’s strategic direction, and representing the interests of the taxpayer with regard to the library’s finances.

    • Whether as a district or under the new law, elections for a new board would be in spring 2021.

    • Most districts have 9 elected board members; some very small districts have petitioned the courts to have fewer but we’re a large city so we wouldn’t do that.

    • Our mayor appoints library board members and the city council confirms them.

    • No – by Illinois law, library board members are volunteers regardless if they are elected or appointed.

    • Yes!  The administration is absolutely committed to being open and transparent.  The board goes into executive session as little as possible.  We’re holding these public meetings so that people can understand what our intentions are for this levy request. We’re planning to get as much public feedback as possible as we start thinking about making improvements at the branches. 

    • District libraries operate under the Illinois Property Tax Extension Limitation Law: the tax cap.  Districts can increase their budget by the rate of inflation (the CPI-U) or 5% each year, whatever is less.

    • We haven’t gone as far as looking for prices to join a consortium.  This is something that we will investigate if we receive the increase that we are asking for.  There are quite a few consortia out there and they all have different pricing models. With our large collection and large population, it will probably be a significant expenditure.

    • No – we’d still do interlibrary loans.  Some things that you currently get from ILL you could get faster with a direct loan from another member of a consortium.

    • It’s really just a different way of doing it.  With ILL, the library borrows the item on behalf of the customer, and then if the item is lost or damaged or not returned, the library is liable for it.  With a consortium, the customer borrows the item directly and so is responsible for it.  The ILL process usually takes a little longer as well.

    • It is a 17.6% increase over next year’s expected Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV).

    • Equalized Assessed Valuation – the assessed value of what all of the property in the municipality is worth, equalized by a formula set by the Illinois Department of Revenue.

    • The City of Aurora levies a rate for the library – so that when property values go down, our revenues go down.  Library districts levy an amount for themselves – they levy what they need to operate rather than a percentage of property valuation.  Even when property values go down, library districts have stable finances.  Most government entities operate this way, not just library districts.

    • The new state law provides for an elected board but keeps the library as a city department, so our budgeting process would stay the same as it is now.

    • The plan that we worked on with our municipal advisor is set up to prevent us having to borrow money for operational needs.  The increase we’re asking for includes $750,000 to set aside every year to build up an operating reserve so that we won’t have to borrow money.  

    • The plan forecasts that our reserves will be at 28% by 2024 and 40% by 2030.

    • The library purchased land for a new main library in 2011.  The money did come from the library’s reserves, and it did an impact on our current financial situation.  By 2011, though, our Old Main Library was less and less able to meet the needs of our community – it was built for a much smaller community, and before computers and technology were such an important feature of library service.

    • During the recession, when property values went down, the library’s revenues also went down.  At the same time, people needed library services more than ever – to look for jobs, to get their resumes in shape, to check out books and DVDs when they didn’t have a lot of extra money to buy them.  People came here to learn new skills and to attend programs for fun too.  We provided reading material for kids when their school library budgets were cut.  We didn’t want to cut services when people needed us the most, so we spent our reserves when times were tough rather than raising taxes. 

    • We don’t currently have anything in our budget for improvements and repairs to our buildings. 

    • As part of the city, we get free electricity from the utility.  So as ratepayers, we are all paying for the library’s electricity! 

    • We will be able to continue to operate as we have for at least a couple of years.  We won’t be able to make any improvements to our buildings, and we won’t be able to grow our collections to serve you better.  Our projections show that by 2024 we will have a deficit which will grow rapidly in the years after that.  And that’s if everything is OK: if we have any kind of catastrophic repair, if a roof or an HVAC system fails, that we have to take care of right away, we could be looking at service reductions and layoffs at any time. 

    • The residents of the township would have to vote to join the library.  Either they or the library could initiate a referendum and a majority of them would have to vote to join.

    • There are about 25,000 households in the township that are within the city limits.

    • About 700.

    • Probably not.  Those households would pay taxes, but they would also use library services.  It would probably be a break even proposition.

    • The bill’s passage was what initially caused us to hire a consultant and go through the financial analysis.  But the city has encouraged our increasing independence over the past few years, so the discussion probably would have come up sooner rather than later.

    • Yes, citizens can gather signatures and put an initiative on the ballot to become a district library.

      • The primary benefit for the library and for the community is stable funding.  As an independent body, the library board sets our levy without having to go to the city council, is subject to the tax cap – which means that our tax levy can only go up by the rate of inflation unless we ask you by going to a referendum and so we have more control over what our revenues will be.
      • When funding is more stable we can plan better for the future.
      • Residents get an elected library board.
    • No – our mission remains the same until our board decides that we need a new strategic plan.

    • Gail Borden in Elgin, St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, Oswego, Sugar Grove….about half of the libraries in Illinois are district libraries.

    • When district libraries are created, they inherit the last levy that their city, village or township voted for them.  Since it does cost a little more do operate as a district, we wouldn’t want to do that without increasing our revenues first.

    • Email our board at board@aurorapubliclibrary.org, or the director at michaela@aurorapubliclibrary.org, or give us a call at 630-264-4106.

    • A recording of the presentation, the one page summary, and plenty of other information is all online at www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/2020andbeyond.

To stay up to date with our process please visit this page as we continue to update you with new information.