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updated: 4/4/2012 11:24 AM

Elk Grove Library reinstates privileges for west side residents

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  • The Elk Grove Village Library board Tuesday night reversed an earlier decision to cancel library cards of 6,680 residents living west of Rohlwing Road on May 1.

       The Elk Grove Village Library board Tuesday night reversed an earlier decision to cancel library cards of 6,680 residents living west of Rohlwing Road on May 1.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer


In a surprising reversal of an earlier decision, the Elk Grove Village Library board Tuesday night voted to reinstate full membership privileges for residents living west of Rohlwing Road, even though they belong to the Schaumburg Township District Library.

Elk Grove library was expected to cancel the library cards of 6,680 village residents on May 1. The move came after the Schaumburg Township District Library board decided to end a tax-sharing agreement with the Elk Grove library.

When the agreement was nullified, the Elk Grove library board decided the roughly 11,000 village residents who live west of Rohlwing Road in Schaumburg Township would lose certain privileges.

The vote Tuesday was 5-1 in favor of reinstating full access for west Rohlwing Road residents to all library programs and facilities.

"I think that this decision is an example of putting the benefits of community over money," resident Lisa Hoye said. "By keeping the west siders eligible for using the library, it continues to allow us to be part of the community."

Library board President JoAnn Shafar disapproved of the policy change because she said it was unfair to village residents who pay taxes to Elk Grove library.

"It is unfair to the residents of the east side of Elk Grove Village to cover the cost of this library exclusively, and now pay to cover the cost (of services) for residents of the west side who contribute nothing to the running of this library," she said. "A library card has value. A library card is paid for, and my vote is 'no.'"

Shafar said she was afraid the library could get sued for serving residents who don't pay taxes to it.

Shafar sought the board's support to get a legal opinion on the matter through a court order to clarify whether Elk Grove library has a legal obligation to continue serving west Rohlwing Road residents without the tax-sharing agreement with Schaumburg Township.

Board member Timothy Burns initially agreed and supported the idea of going to court.

"Let's see exactly what we can possibly get hit with so we can defend our policy," he said.

But that motion failed for lack of support from the other trustees because of the potential cost of litigation -- estimated to be $25,000 to $30,000.

Board member Gil Schumm said since the library board already has adopted the policy to serve those west Rohlwing Road residents, going to court to determine whether there is an obligation to serve them becomes moot.

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.

For 28 years, 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.

A group of residents living west of Rohlwing Road appealed to the Schaumburg Township library board in February asking it to reconsider ending the tax-sharing agreement, but that board would not reverse its decision.

Cory Fosco, one of the affected Elk Grove residents, thanked the Elk Grove library board for listening to residents' concerns.

"You, the majority of this board, are showing our children, if you believe in something and you voice your opinion and you don't back down from that, people will hear you," he said.

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