Indian Trails referendum approved
Thanks to a slim 144 votes, voters Tuesday agreed to let the Indian Trails Public Library extend a tax rate increase first approved back in 1995.
With all 47 precincts reporting, unofficial vote totals showed 2,127 votes in favor of the library referendum and 1,983 opposed.
Library Director Tom Simiele is happy with the results but won't rest until those absentee ballots are counted.
"I'd describe my feeling right now as guarded optimism," he said. "It looks like people recognize that their library is a great value. When times are tough more and more people head to the library."
Back in 1995, voters approved a 3-cent rate increase to repay a $3.8 million loan that funded a two-story, 14,000-square-foot expansion of the Wheeling library at 355 S. Schoenbeck Road.
The library will finish paying off the loan this year, but officials wanted the tax increase -- and the $500,000 it generates every year -- to stick around. The 3-cent rate increase means the owner of a $200,000 home pays an additional $18.50 a year in library taxes.
With the voters' support, the library plans on reconfiguring some rooms to make space for quiet study areas and rooms for teens. The library has plans to build a small addition for meeting rooms near the front of the building as well.
Voters also approved a tax rate increase in 2002 to help the library expand services and add to its collections, as well as electronic services. According to library officials, the district has avoided budget deficits by leaving staff positions vacant for months and by dipping into reserves.
Last year, Indian Trails circulated 1.3 million items and more than 40,000 people visit the library every month. The library serves residents in Wheeling, Buffalo Grove, Prospect Heights and Arlington Heights.
Joe Jordan organized a citizens group in support of the referendum.
"It's not over until those final numbers are in but this is terrific news," Jordan said.