Emotions ran high Monday night as Elk Grove Village residents voiced their disappointment with the Schaumburg Township District Library board's decision to end a tax-sharing agreement with the Elk Grove Village Public Library.
The issue was not on the Schaumburg library board's agenda Monday night, yet more than two dozen residents urged board members to reconsider their decision.
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Library Board President Robert Lyons said it was record attendance for a board meeting.
After listening to multiple residents complain about Schaumburg Township not having the same kind of programs or library services as Elk Grove Village, Lyons and several other board members assured patrons they would address their concerns.
Ashley Pincenti, 14, of Elk Grove Village, made an emotional plea about the hardship of having to go to Schaumburg for library services instead of Elk Grove.
"We go to the library at least four to eight times a month," she said. "I take my bike whenever I can."
Pincenti said the Schaumburg library is roughly 4½ miles from her home, while Elk Grove Village library is only a mile and a half away.
"It's more than just a library. It's a part of my childhood," Pincenti said. "It's a part of the residents living in Elk Grove. Everyone I know says they love the Elk Grove library. No matter what decision you make, I'm standing up for what I believe in. You can rip up my library card, but you can never rip my heart out of the library."
Lyons stressed residents losing privileges at the Elk Grove Village library still have full privileges at Schaumburg.
"The Schaumburg Township District Library is not in the business of denying people library service," Lyons said. "This is your library. You may not use the library, but it is the library that you have been paying taxes to. Elk Grove has no leverage in this contest except for you."
As a result of the nullified agreement, the roughly 11,000 Elk Grove Village residents who live west of Rohlwing Road in Schaumburg Township will lose certain privileges at the Elk Grove library starting May 1. Of those, 6,680 residents have current Elk Grove Village library cards that will be canceled.
Lyons went on to say the Schaumburg library board would not reverse its decision.
"We have made it for monetary reasons. Elk Grove has also made their decision for monetary reasons," he said.
Elk Grove Village resident Cory Fosco was irked by Lyons' statement, which Lyons made before public comments began.
"It's really disappointing for us to take the time to come here and plead to you to reconsider your decision," he said.
Fosco said he collected 303 signatures on a petition from western Elk Grove Village residents in support of continuation of services at Elk Grove Village library.
"It's a lot of numbers of people affected by this decision," Fosco said. "We home-school our children. (Elk Grove Village) library is a very big part of our home. The Elk Grove library has reached out to each and every one of our children."
The tax-sharing deal between both libraries 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, Lyons said.
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.
Lyons, who was on the library board at the time of the referendum, said Schaumburg can't afford to continue to divide the tax.
"Our needs to run as close as we could to a balanced budget would require us to keep that money," he said.
Some audience members questioned whether another referendum could be held where they could choose to go back to Elk Grove Village library.
State Rep. Michelle Mussman, whose 56th District includes Elk Grove Village and Schaumburg Township, said while there is no legal recourse at present to allow another vote on the matter, her office is trying to figure out what options residents have at the state level.
"You cannot call the referendum in such a way that it would only apply to Elk Grove Village and Schaumburg Township," Mussman said. "That's not something the state is prepared to open up because it affects a wide variety of things, not just us alone. Anything that needs to be changed must be worked out between Elk Grove Village and Schaumburg Township."
Elk Grove Village resident Helen Leski said children and senior citizens who live in the western part of Elk Grove Village don't want to drive to Schaumburg.
"Everything seems to be money," she said. "I'm just really unhappy and I wish the two libraries can work together."