Feud heightens between Elk Grove, Schaumburg libraries
The falling out between the Elk Grove Village Public Library and Schaumburg Township Library District over a nullified tax-sharing agreement is causing grief for some taxpayers.
"I live in Elk Grove Village. Why can't that be my library?" resident Helen Leski asked at a recent village board meeting.
Leski said she uses the Elk Grove library five or six days a week, even though she pays taxes to the Schaumburg Township District Library.
Roughly 11,000 Elk Grove Village residents like Leski who live west of Rohlwing Road in Schaumburg Township will lose certain privileges at the Elk Grove library as of May 1. About one-third of those residents have current Elk Grove Village library cards that will be canceled.
"I love our library," Leski said. "I'm not going to be able to do a lot of things. Can't the two libraries work it out?"
Due to a deal struck more than 25 years ago, those west of Rohlwing residents were enjoying benefits at both libraries with dual library cards, though legally paying taxes only to the Schaumburg Township District Library.
"It's the only area in the entire state ever to have that sort of ability to hold two library cards, that is essentially prohibited by (state law)," Schaumburg Township library Director Stephanie Sarnoff said.
The tax-sharing deal between both libraries originally 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.
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.
However, the Schaumburg Township library board decided last July to end the tax-sharing agreement due to financial constraints.
Earlier in 2011, the board conducted several town hall meetings about the potential for a referendum to increase taxes, but decided against it.
"There really was no option," Sarnoff said. "Given the financial constraints, we simply have to lower our costs, which we have been doing. We have been cutting back (on personnel and material purchases). It would not be fair to 144,000 people in our entire district to increase their taxes in this economy."
Sarnoff emphasized the affected Elk Grove Village residents still have full access to Schaumburg Township library's services, programs, and resources.
"Nobody is losing any privileges at the Schaumburg Township District Library, the library to which they pay their taxes," Sarnoff said. "Those (patrons) in that area have unimpeded access to everything we provide. Also, under state law, they will continue to have privileges as reciprocal borrowers (at Elk Grove Village library)."
Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson said he was disappointed with the Schaumburg Township library board's decision to end the tax-sharing deal.
"It was a great partnership," Johnson said at a recent village board meeting. "It's such a small percentage of their budget that I cannot believe they would alienate that many residents. The victims are the residents west of Rohlwing Road."
Johnson urged Elk Grove Village residents who are part of that district to run for the board in the next election.
"Don't take your disappointment out with the Elk Grove Village library officials. Take it out on the ones who caused it," he said.
These restrictions on Elk Grove Village residents west of Rohlwing Road take effect May 1 at the municipal library:
• Their library cards will be canceled
• They cannot reserve meeting rooms
• They cannot access online databases from the library website
• They cannot reserve items
• They won't receive library "Highlights" newsletters
• Cannot register for some adult programs as library cardholders get preference
• Cannot preregister for youth programs
• Cannot participate in Battle of the Books competition
• Cannot check out new fiction
• Cannot join various book clubs whether in-house or online
• Cannot download free eMusic, eAudio books, and eBooks
• Cannot reserve one-on-one sessions with librarians
• Cannot reserve one-on-one sessions with computer helpers
• Checkouts are limited to six CDs and six magazines
• Must bring own books to participate in book discussion groups
• Teachers in Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 will no longer get Book Bags to supplement the curriculum
Source: Elk Grove Village Public Library
Library services retained
Elk Grove Village residents living west of Rohlwing Road will continue to have full access to these benefits at Schaumburg Township District Library:
•Schaumburg Township library cards are valid and active and must be honored at Elk Grove Village library and all other public libraries
•Will be able to reserve meeting and discussion rooms (all Elk Grove Village Public Library cardholders also can reserve discussion rooms)
•Will be able to access collection databases from outside the library
•Will have full access to all children's programs
•Will be able to participate in book discussion groups
•Will be allowed to download free e-books, audio books and music
Also, all Elk Grove Village Public Library cardholders and residents enjoy the following benefits at Schaumburg Township library:
•Will be able to reserve items.
•Are eligible to register for all adult programs
•Will be allowed to check out new books
•Will be able to reserve one-on-one sessions with librarians and computer assistants
•Will be allowed to check out 20 CDs and 6 magazines
•Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 teachers will be allowed to check out book bags
Source: Schaumburg Township District Library