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updated: 1/27/2011 6:45 AM

Naperville Library to present levy decrease

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In the spirit of cooperation, Naperville Public Library officials are prepared to return an additional $200,000 to the city for property tax abatements. Any more than that, they said, would cripple library operations.

The library's levy request of $12,450,000 for fiscal year 2012 was already 3.15 percent, or $400,000 less than the previous year, but city council members asked the library board to consider as much as $300,000 in additional abatements.

"Their motivation is to help the Naperville residents and reduce the tax burden on Naperville residents in any way they can," said city finance Director Karen DeAngelis. "And it was in that spirit that they asked each component of the tax levy if there was anything further they could do to reduce that."

After a three-hour budget session earlier this month and two additional weeks of "pencil sharpening and belt tightening" by staff leaders, the board Wednesday identified $200,000 in savings by cutting as much as $95,000 from the IT budget, $44,500 from the facilities budget and $50,000 from administration in the form of office equipment and changes to insurance premiums.

But just because they found it doesn't mean they're willing to give it up.

"They need to feel the pain that these cuts would cause," said board member Jeff Davis. "I'm not recommending any more cuts but I want (the city council) to know we've pored over this."

Several board members believe they've already given enough, through a 21 percent decrease in collection spending since fiscal year 2008 and the reduction of more than four full time employees at a cost of $211,000 since fiscal year 2009.

"We say we can do this but we are getting push back from the community in the other direction," said Board President Sun Kwok. "So if the city council does feel that it is necessary for us to further reduce our budget, we are prepared to do so but we recommend against it because of the impact it would have, including furlough days and further cuts to our services."

The $200,000, staff members said, can maintain service levels and access while saving jobs for one more year.

Board members unanimously agreed any more reductions would be made through closing each of the three libraries -- Nichols, Naper Boulevard and 95th Street -- at a projected savings of $35,000 a day.

The board's proposal will come before the city council at it's Feb. 7 budget workshop.

Once the board makes its presentation to the city council, the council is expected to review the proposal before deciding how much of the library's levy to abate in March.