Mahomet to consider 33-cent tax rate increase for library

Mahomet to consider 33-cent tax rate increase for library

By: Margo Dill

By: Margo Dill

By: Margo Dill

By: Margo Dill

MAHOMET – Voters in Mahomet Township will decide in April whether taxes should be raised to build a new, larger library.

The Mahomet library board is proposing a 33-cent tax rate increase on the April 17 ballot. If the proposal passes, the total maximum library tax rate will increase from the current 20.5 cents to 53.5 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation.

"The board went with the lowest possible rate they could and still build and operate the new library," library director Lynn Schmit said.

The rate of 53.5 cents per $100 will cover the cost for building the new library, supplying it with materials and paying operating costs such as utilities, staff and maintenance.

"This is a one-time investment that will have the library in good operating condition for the next 15 to 20 years," reads the library literature.

The proposed increase is divided into 18 cents per $100 assessed valuation to finance the project and 15 cents per $100 assessed valuation to operate the new library.

The library board feels the wording, listed under supplemental information on the April 17 ballot, might be misleading to taxpayers. The ballot will state that the approximate amount of additional tax on a single-family residence with a fair market value of $100,000 is estimated to be $110.

But Schmit said that homestead and senior citizen exemptions can make the additional tax for the library less than $100 a year for a $100,000 home.

Before the library board proposed the rate increase, it formed a committee to raise money with a capital campaign. Tom Maranville, a professional fundraiser, consulted with the committee of community members, library volunteers and staff to raise about $139,000 through donations and pledges.

"We were very happy with what was raised," Schmit said. "We put in a good effort. Everything helps."

Future fundraising events are being planned. If the proposed tax rate passes, the library also can apply for grants. The current library building will be sold if a new library is built. Money from the sale will be used at the new location.

The estimated total project cost for the new Mahomet Public Library is $4,490,000. The proposed 18,430-square-foot facility will be built in Hunter's Ridge Subdivision at U.S. 150 and Churchill Road. (The existing library has 4,000 square feet.)

"To be in compliance with state standards, a library, in a town with the population and growth rate of Mahomet, would need to be 24,000 square feet," said Cathe Capel, the library board president.

The new library would have room to double the amount of materials in the existing building. Plans include a children's area, two small group study rooms, reading nooks and a young adult collection with seating.

The library board also plans to have a community meeting room for 100 people, a local history display, 16 public computer stations and wireless high-speed Internet.

The building will be accessible to persons with wheelchairs and include a drive-up book drop.

Schmit said the library could house art and cultural displays, and host storyteller or author visits.

The existing library, at 512 E. Main St. downtown, is cramped for space, causing usable materials to be removed when new materials arrive. Six computers are available for use, and some patrons have waited more than an hour for a computer on weekdays after school, according to Schmit.

The children's area and meeting room on the bottom level do not meet standards of the federal disabilities act.

For the first six months of the fiscal year, out of the 90 automated public libraries in the Lincoln Trail Libraries System, Mahomet ranked fourth in circulation behind Champaign, Urbana and Danville.

According to Capel, circulation increases every year, even though the current library is cramped. She wonders how much circulation the new library could have with a more spacious facility that could hold a collection to serve the needs of a fast-growing community.

"I think Mahomet has terrific schools because prior generations sacrificed to get them built," Schmit said. "The library board realizes it takes sacrifice to build a new public building. A good library means a better quality of life for residents of all ages and reflects the values of our community.

"This community values education. The library should also indicate that. It might help attract new businesses to Mahomet. Libraries typically are very good for business."

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