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updated: 1/30/2012 5:50 PM

Feud heightens between Elk Grove, Schaumburg libraries

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  • Lynn Thurman of Elk Grove Village picks out some fiction in the Elk Grove Village Library. As of May 1st, residents west of Rohlwing Road will lose their Elk Grove Village library cards because a tax-sharing deal between the Schaumburg and Elk Grove library districts is being canceled.

       Lynn Thurman of Elk Grove Village picks out some fiction in the Elk Grove Village Library. As of May 1st, residents west of Rohlwing Road will lose their Elk Grove Village library cards because a tax-sharing deal between the Schaumburg and Elk Grove library districts is being canceled.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • As of May 1st, residents west of Rohlwing Road will lose their Elk Grove Village library cards because a tax-sharing deal between the Schaumburg and Elk Grove library districts is being canceled.

       As of May 1st, residents west of Rohlwing Road will lose their Elk Grove Village library cards because a tax-sharing deal between the Schaumburg and Elk Grove library districts is being canceled.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Craig Johnson

      Craig Johnson

 
 

The falling out between the Elk Grove Village Public Library and Schaumburg Township Library District over a nullified tax-sharing agreement is causing grief for some taxpayers.

"I live in Elk Grove Village. Why can't that be my library?" resident Helen Leski asked at a recent village board meeting.

Leski said she uses the Elk Grove library five or six days a week, even though she pays taxes to the Schaumburg Township District Library.

Roughly 11,000 Elk Grove Village residents like Leski who live west of Rohlwing Road in Schaumburg Township will lose certain privileges at the Elk Grove library as of May 1. About one-third of those residents have current Elk Grove Village library cards that will be canceled.

"I love our library," Leski said. "I'm not going to be able to do a lot of things. Can't the two libraries work it out?"

Due to a deal struck more than 25 years ago, those west of Rohlwing residents were enjoying benefits at both libraries with dual library cards, though legally paying taxes only to the Schaumburg Township District Library.

"It's the only area in the entire state ever to have that sort of ability to hold two library cards, that is essentially prohibited by (state law)," Schaumburg Township library Director Stephanie Sarnoff said.

The tax-sharing deal between both libraries originally was established to stop residents from being double-taxed because that territory of Elk Grove Village's municipal library overlapped with the Schaumburg Township library district.

Until a 1983 referendum, residents of the western third of Elk Grove Village belonged and paid taxes to both libraries. A majority of voters supported joining the Schaumburg district.

Per the deal, Schaumburg Township library remitted a portion of tax revenue generated from Elk Grove Village residents to the Elk Grove library. That amounted to more than $200,000 in fiscal year 2011 -- and more than $3.4 million over the years.

That funding makes up about 4 percent of the Elk Grove library's roughly $4.6 million operating budget, and about 1.5 percent of the Schaumburg library's $14.8 million operating budget for the 2011 fiscal year.

However, the Schaumburg Township library board decided last July to end the tax-sharing agreement due to financial constraints.

Earlier in 2011, the board conducted several town hall meetings about the potential for a referendum to increase taxes, but decided against it.

"There really was no option," Sarnoff said. "Given the financial constraints, we simply have to lower our costs, which we have been doing. We have been cutting back (on personnel and material purchases). It would not be fair to 144,000 people in our entire district to increase their taxes in this economy."

Sarnoff emphasized the affected Elk Grove Village residents still have full access to Schaumburg Township library's services, programs, and resources.

"Nobody is losing any privileges at the Schaumburg Township District Library, the library to which they pay their taxes," Sarnoff said. "Those (patrons) in that area have unimpeded access to everything we provide. Also, under state law, they will continue to have privileges as reciprocal borrowers (at Elk Grove Village library)."

Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson said he was disappointed with the Schaumburg Township library board's decision to end the tax-sharing deal.

"It was a great partnership," Johnson said at a recent village board meeting. "It's such a small percentage of their budget that I cannot believe they would alienate that many residents. The victims are the residents west of Rohlwing Road."

Johnson urged Elk Grove Village residents who are part of that district to run for the board in the next election.

"Don't take your disappointment out with the Elk Grove Village library officials. Take it out on the ones who caused it," he said.

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