Naperville mayoral candidates debate library spending
Naperville Public Library officials believe they've been as frugal as can be in recent years without affecting services.
Naperville's three mayoral candidates in the April 5 election mostly agree, but challengers Kenn Miller and Doug Krause believe the library can do more to help the city's bottom line.
Library officials already have sliced $400,000 from their proposed 2011 property tax levy and are waiting to learn if the city will take any more. They've also seen a 21 percent decrease in spending on collections since fiscal 2008 and the reduction of more than four full-time employees at a savings of $211,000 since fiscal 2009.
Miller, a Naperville councilman, said the city should be proud of the library's decade of nationally ranked service but said it needs to "play a part" during the economic crisis.
"They do an excellent job and I fully support the library, however when we're in this economic downturn, all of the departments, including the library, need to play a part in reducing the cost so we overall are reducing the costs to residents and taxpayers," he said.
Krause, also a councilman, agreed.
"The library is one of those parts of the wheel, the spokes that make the quality of life we enjoy in the city," Krause said. "But they shouldn't be exempt from anything the rest of us have to go through, whether that's budget cuts so we can make sure we don't have a $26 million deficit. They have to share in the process as well."
Earlier this year, the library was asked to trim as much as an additional $300,000 from its 2012 budget but library board members resisted, saying doing so would force furlough days and other service cuts.
Mayor George Pradel said he's proud of the way the library has handled the situation, saying "they run their affairs really, really well."
"They have been one of the outstanding budget control departments we've had but I back the library 100 percent," Pradel said. "They've made lots of cuts. We just want to make sure the number one library in the country for the last 10 years is still the number one library."
City Manager Doug Krieger said city officials have reviewed the library's request and determined it "has done a pretty darn good job of eliminating waste."
The next budget workshop is scheduled for 5 p.m. March 7 at city hall.