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updated: 11/18/2013 4:48 PM

Now-agreeable Sugar Grove Library board to try tax hike 13th time

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  • The Sugar Grove Library opened a new building in 2008. The board wants to increase taxes to pay for increased services, including having the library open more often.

       The Sugar Grove Library opened a new building in 2008. The board wants to increase taxes to pay for increased services, including having the library open more often.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Pat Graceffa

      Pat Graceffa

  • Sugar Grove Library board President Daniel Herkes

      Sugar Grove Library board President Daniel Herkes

 
 

The Sugar Grove Library will ask taxpayers for more money to operate, and a familiar face has joined the board.

Both matters were decided unanimously last week which, given the library's history, is also news.

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"We're all working extremely well together," library board President Daniel Herkes said Friday. "We moved past all of the difficulties."

The referendum

The library hopes 13 will be its lucky number. It has asked for more taxes 12 times since April 1981 -- the most recent in February 2010 -- and been rejected each time.

The library board seeks to raise the tax rate to 20.51 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation. That works out to a little less than $25 per $100,000 of market value of a single-family house.

It would generate an additional $332,477, according to library director Carol Dolin. The library, which opened a new building in 2008, collects $559,551 for operating expenses now.

Visits to the library, and circulation of materials, "are way, way up," Herkes said. "We're constantly busy, which is a great feeling."

But the library is open only 50 hours a week. Libraries in adjoining Aurora, North Aurora and Elburn are open up to 68 hours a week.

"There's quite a lot of clamor from our patrons to be open more," he said. To do that, he said, takes more money.

The troubles

Herkes acknowledged the library board's troubled past.

In the summer of 2011, board meetings were tumultuous affairs, with members of the public booing the board and picketing meetings after the board fired 20-year library director Beverly Holmes Hughes. Hughes was a popular figure in town and was the 2010 Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year, even though she lived in North Aurora.

The discord led to the Friends of the Library support group disbanding in protest, and a library trustee resigned because she couldn't stand the criticism and animosity.

But a lightning rod for much of the criticism, the former president, is gone. One of the critics was appointed to a board vacancy in October 2011. Another critic was elected in April.

Last Thursday night the board appointed Pat Graceffa to fill a vacancy. Graceffa is a prominent supporter of the library and critic of previous library boards.

"We feel that the library is in a very, very different place than it ever has been before," Herkes said.

Graceffa was president of the former Friends of the Library. She ran unsuccessfully as a write-in candidate in April and applied twice in 2011 to fill vacancies.

The appointment came as a surprise to Graceffa, who was in the audience Thursday night. The board did not solicit applicants for the vacancy but merely asked her if she would take the position, Herkes said.

She replaces Ed DeBartolo, who moved to Florida. Graceffa will serve until the April 2015 election.

Graceffa is also a former Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year.

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