After three years with no tax increases, in September 2022, the Evanston Public Library Board proposed a 3.9 percent increase in the property tax levy to support the library’s operations. Here, we have compiled some frequently asked questions about the proposed increase and what it will mean for residents.
How much will my taxes go up?
About 3% of your total property tax bill funds the library. In the last year, for a $400,000 home with a total tax bill of $10,473*, just $279 went to providing everything the library offers, including access to the library’s collection of more than a million titles and the hundreds of free programs the library offers every year. The approximate increase for this median property tax bill would be about $11.
Why is the library increasing taxes?
The Library has not increased property taxes in three years. This year, the Library Board is seeking an increase that will help defray increased costs for staff and services.
Like everything else in this moment of inflation, the Library’s costs to operate have increased. In 2023, the Library expects an increase of 7 percent in the cost of providing daily operations. A portion of that increase in costs will cover raises for our staff – many of whom have not seen a raise in several years. The remainder will pay for increased costs for the goods and services that keep our library running.
What is the library doing to keep taxes down?
Our staff has been asked to find savings where possible – a continual and ongoing process for the library as new technology and operational improvements help us work more efficiently.
In addition, our Library actively works to diversify its revenue sources. Our staff applies for grant funding throughout the year, and our development team works with Evanstonians and others who love our Library and make gifts to keep EPL funded. In 2021, philanthropy, including both grants and donations, accounted for 12% of the Library’s revenues.
Additionally, this year the Library Board will also use a portion of its reserve funds, essentially the Library’s rainy day account, to bridge the gap between increased costs and the increased revenue generated by property taxes. The Library Board has maintained a healthy reserve fund and is currently considering a reserve fund policy to continue to guide how and when the reserve should be used.
Will any of my favorite programs be affected?
No, the Evanston Public Library will continue to bring you free programs and access to our collections throughout the year. We continually assess our programs and services to ensure that we are directing our resources to the best, most popular, and most impactful programs and services for our community, so while you may see a program or service conclude from time to time, the decision to end these services is not based solely on budget cuts.
How can I learn more?
The Library’s Truth in Taxation Hearing – which the Library holds annually regardless of increases in the name of transparency – will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. Visit epl.org beginning Monday, Oct. 17 for information regarding how to access the virtual public hearing and find instructions on how to present testimony to the taxing district.
What does the Library provide for Evanston residents?
The Evanston Public Library is a resource hub for our diverse community – our librarians and support staff increase literacy of all kinds through more than 1,000 programs every year for all ages from beloved story times to workshops that connect residents to critical resources from housing to healthcare.
You can find help with legal issues, get special perks at partner organizations around town, get help with your job search, find engaging STEM career exploration opportunities for teens, experience a Smithsonian exhibit, take action on climate change – and so much more!
And that’s on top of our collection of books, eBooks, music, movies – and even laptops – available to borrow with your library card.
To learn more about everything happening at your library, visit epl.org, or sign up for our weekly newsletter.
*This is the most recent estimated tax bill of a $400,000 home before homeowners exemptions and senior homestead exemptions are applied. Your actual bill will vary based on the value of your home, any exemptions that may apply, changes to the levies of other taxing bodies, and adjustments to equalized assessed value at the county level.