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Is the Heights Library Stockpiling Too Much Tax Money?

The library's million-dollar stockpile was a major point of contention at Monday night's 2012 tax levy public hearing.

Mayor David Gonzalez entertained the idea of giving the Chicago Heights Public Library zero dollars in the 2012 tax levy after he revealed the institution has been underspending enough to build nearly $1.2 million in its bank account.

By comparison, Treasurer Jim Dee’s presentation revealing a more than $170,000 funding cut to the library almost seems generous. At an even $1 million the library's levy was one of the few items on the list to decrease from 2011.

Fourth Ward Ald. Joshua Deabel questioned the decrease.

"We're actually proposing this year to be less than it has been over the past two years," Deabel said. "I find that disconcerting, considering that's the one thing the community direly needs ... I'd hate to see the public library funds go down, especially when everything has gone up on this entire list."

The library has asked for more than $1 million in the tax levy in recent years and typically only uses around $700,000, Gonzalez said. The surplus money is growing in a bank account. 

"The library has been levying a million dollars every year with a million dollars, in cash, sitting in the bank," Gonzalez said. "They're building up a reserve. So it's not fair to taxpayers if we keep levying more if they're not using it."

Third Ward Ald. Wanda Rodgers asked why the council doesn't just drop the library's dollar amount down to zero.

"I'm OK with zero," Gonzalez replied, but he later suggested the council stick with the $1 million and look into a different amount next year, especially if the library continues its conservative spending.

"The message needs to be very clear to the library board that if you're going to levy a million dollars, at the end of this audit period, you better show us how you spent it," Gonzalez said.

Ald. Sonia Perez, who is a library board member, said she could accept a reduction in the levy amount but opposed dropping it to zero.

During public participation, Charles Dieringer, who is on the Friends of the Library board, said he's heard past discussions about lowering the library's levy. He’s concerned the reduction in funding could have a serious impact on the maintenance of the aging building.

"They have an old boiler that is very out of date," Dieringer said. "It's not even up to compliance. If that thing fails and the controls fail, that boiler's going to have to be replaced . . . They have a rainy day fund, but it’s very minimal.”

Gonzales sees it differently.

"A rainy day fund?" he said. "They have a $1.2 million rainy day fund. That's a thunderstorm hurricane. . . All I'm saying is: You have the money. Fix the boiler."

During the regular city council meeting, every council member, except Deabel, voted in favor of the levy as it stands. The total levy amounts to more than $18 million and will be about a 1.5 percent increase to Chicago Heights taxpayers over the 2011 total. 

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Lucy December 18, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Not familiar enough with the yearly expenses of the library but on the surface it seems $1M in the bank is a lot of money. Brings into question how they make decisions on when/how to utilize their budget. Why hasn't the boiler and other updates been made if the money is there.
Diana E December 18, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Cat running around?!! You must be seeing things sir. I go there a LOT to do my homework and use their WiFi. As for the workers they all seem nice. However, I do think there has to be something done about the amount of homeless people there. I know its a PUBLIC facility but I don't know what they can do about that. As for the money, isn't it separated for different things? They just can't go out and buy new tables and chairs when they have bills and things that need to be fixed and paid for first. They must use their money wisely if there is that much in the bank.
ProudAmerican December 18, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Diana, You must not be there that much or you are a Library Employee. I've seen the Cat. I even asked the girl one day about it and she rolled her eyes and said the cat's name was gussy. The Library has money to feed a cat , but can't find money to change the worn out and torn American Flag outside their building. It's a disgrace to any American who has served. And some of the Homeless People are the reason people like you Diane can enjoy your everyday life. Quit taking our tax money if you don't need it. Taxing people to stockpile cash and feed gussy is not being wise. And Replace the FLAG !!!!
SkippyJohn Jones December 18, 2012 at 07:17 PM
ProudAmerican- first of all I am a Proud and disabled AMERICAN veteran and a tattered flag is not offensive to me. That means it has flown........... in the wind! The flags that were torn and tattered and ripped during war I suppose are offensive to you too? Or the flags flown from Military Vessels which get tattered as well.... would those be offensive to you? Have you ever looked at the flag that is flown at the business accross the street in the yellow house - that one has been even worse or pretty much cut in half at times. A tattered and worn flag is a beautiful thing - maybe if you would spend some time serving your country (try community at the very least) instead of worrying how a cat will be fed and who purchased the food your own surroundings may someday be in a better position.
SkippyJohn Jones December 18, 2012 at 07:28 PM
John Gibson - (J.G.) So how is it that you choose to use/visit a library in Homewood and yet complain about a cat running around the Chicago Heights Library? I have never seen a cat run around the main floors of the Library at all. Where exactly did you see this cat run around at the library? As for the building - well the plaque on the wall says it was built in 1972 so that would mean its over 40yrs old... hmmm yes it seems a 40yo building would need some work and attention. You might visit your eye doctor because it appears you vision may be working half the time.
SkippyJohn Jones December 18, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Lucy - so I presume you are totally familiar with the yearly expenses of the City of Chicago Heights. What about City Utilities? What about the lack of trees being trimmed or lack of dead trees being removed from city easements? I would say that incase you live in Chicago Heights Lucy you should look down your street and I will bet you can spot dying if not dead trees that need to be removed and several CITY TREES that need to be trimmed.......... This brings into question how the Mayor makes decisions on when/how to utilize its budget - instead the Mayor is worried about a Library that is struggling to keep up with its patrons and its aging building. I thought the people had elected a Mayor -- not a Tyrant!
Andrew M December 18, 2012 at 07:41 PM
The Library spends $700,000 in a year, It has a Million in the Bank and wants the taxpayers to tax us another million dollars next year on the Property Tax Bill. The Law is pretty clear that you cannot levy more than what you spend or you owe that money back to the taxpayers. Does the Library have a Capital Fund it is trying to build up for major renovation or expansion? That would be the only reason that I could see them building up a Cash surplus. They have some explaining to do. Alderman Deabel needs to take a business class and understand that you cannot keep taxing us for no reason. I guess we have "Taxation with Dumb Representation" He votes against the levy because he wants the Library to have more cash? I wasn't at the meeting but can't figure his reason .
SkippyJohn Jones December 18, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Winston - Where did you see tax cut? what I see is a Tyrant Mayor that is trying to "take from Paul to pay Peter" ............ the bottom tax line I dont believe is being reduced....... but the tax amount going to the Library would be reduced......... talk about pulling wool over YOUR eyes. You continue to go ahead and be happy.... in your own little world ... please enjoy your "tax cut"
JuanRaymon December 18, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Proud American, how idiotic it sounds to ask if you can kick the homeless out of a Public Library. Towns an cities everywhere have the same problem. Go look up how many homeless people are Veterans who have fallen on their feet. If your so proud go help the homeless and be positive instead of attacking a light for our community!
SkippyJohn Jones December 18, 2012 at 08:09 PM
ProudAmerican- I think its safe to say that Chicago Road is a major street to travel - especially if you live in Chicago Heights. To travel up down this road all the time and know the details of what your community is like is not a crime. Maybe you should open your eyes a little more............. try volunteering at a shelter somewhere!
ProudAmerican December 18, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Yea Skippy and Juan, Only someone at the Library (employee) could relate to the yellow house across the street. Sorry the Flag at the Library is not a Battleground where you would expect to see a torn flag. It is a disgrace and shoud be replaced. Isnt it time to feed your cat ?
JuanRaymon December 18, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Your right but I can't imagine how hard it must be with other people complaining to the staff about the homeless that could be annoying as well. The real question is why does Ald. Sonia Perez think she's qualified to be on the board? Because our mayor wants to appoint those in his administration to make his plan come true: take the library's money!
SkippyJohn Jones December 18, 2012 at 08:42 PM
ProudAmerican why are you back tracking and deleting some of your comments? Why are you so hung up about Library Employees? I presume you being a Proud American have a job as well...... is it City Hall? is it the Rec Center? Is it St.James? or do you work in that little yellow house? Do you work at St.Agnes? It is ridiculous to presume where I work - if I work at all. Maybe I am a retired veteran...... maybe I dont need to work and have time to visit my local library...... maybe I have been blessed and have the opportunity to see the hurt in our community. Maybe I am retired from St.James hospital.......maybe I am a retired school teacher who loves books......maybe I LIVE in Chicago Heights and know my community. why are you so concerned and hung up about where I work?
Winston Wolf December 18, 2012 at 10:07 PM
The overall tax levy is being reduced by 1.5 percent. Again, thank you to the mayor and city council. Why is Alderman Deabel against a tax cut?
SkippyJohn Jones December 18, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Thank you for that bit of information...... I stand corrected! I am surprised that ProudAmerican isnt trying to guess that perhaps your a City Employee.......... the Mayor Perhaps? Maybe he is in the office next to you?
NoOne Needs to Know December 18, 2012 at 10:45 PM
The last paragraph of the article clearly states there is a 1.5 percent INCREASE. "During the regular city council meeting, every council member, except Deabel, voted in favor of the levy as it stands. The total levy amounts to more than $18 million and will be about a 1.5 percent increase to Chicago Heights taxpayers over the 2011 total." Winston you need to pay better attention to what you are reading before you start congratulating the Mayor. Alderman Deabel voted AGAINST a tax INCREASE...AGAIN. Deabel was the only Alderman to vote against a tax increase last year as well.
SkippyJohn Jones December 18, 2012 at 11:03 PM
I take that back Winston Wolf - YOU stand corrected. NoOne Needs to know - thank you for explaining that because....... "SomeOne needs to know"
Michael Wright December 18, 2012 at 11:50 PM
I have both seen the cat and "smelled" the ammonia odor from its urine in the lower level when I attended a couple meetings there a few months ago. Perhaps currently this matter has been taken care of, but I assure you there WAS a cat on premises and there WAS an odor.
Diana E December 19, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Actually so called "proud American" I am not an employee. Like I said I go there to use their WiFi for school. And all I said was that the employees at reference are nice and helpful. How are homeless people helping me enjoy my everyday life?! Oh and as for the cat, I've never had to go downstairs that I would be able to see it if its walking around. Hope it doesn't claw at you! Ha!
Mrs. GoodFella December 19, 2012 at 04:09 PM
I stopped going to that library because it is so old and needs major repairs and more updated technology. I agree with the Mayor on this one. If you are not using the money, then you should not receive any more money until what you have saved is spent. The library is in dire need of repairs and they have the funds, so why have they not used the money? The way i see it is just because tax money is available, that does not give you the right to keep requesting and taking the money when you have it saved in the bank. Let other components of the City have that money and then after you use up your saved funds, then you can request more if needed.
LeeRoy Brown December 19, 2012 at 07:38 PM
"Let other components of the City have that money" ....... sounds like another one of the Mayors puppets just like his board members he just installed at the Library....... Did you see him this last meeting at City Hall -- my 3yo kids throws tantrums like David Gonzales did....... oh my!
Mrs. GoodFella December 19, 2012 at 08:16 PM
I did not see the Mayor throwing himself on the floor like a child would nor was he acting like a child. You do not need to be an elected official to make a difference in the communtiy. Try joining a committee, be a volunteer at the library or just become involved in City events; this will make a difference instead of making ingnorant comments. Comments like those will never change the city. If you want change, then do something and become involved, instead of making yourselves look stupid. For example, people complain about garbage on the streets. The day the City had its City-Wide Clean-up, I hardly saw any residents participating. That was the time to make a difference. But I see that people would rather make senseless comments than actually get off their a** and make a true difference in the town they criticize so much. Not too long ago, there were a few vacancies in the Library Committee. I did not see you, Jason Amos or any other person who runs their mouths, try to fill the vacancy. Try joining a committee where your opinions can actually make a difference before something is voted on. There is no need to make senseless comments if you have no intention of ever becoming involved in making a difference in the City that you and so many other loves to criticize.
LeeRoy Brown December 19, 2012 at 09:44 PM
I am fed up with not saying my own thoughts....(for ProudAmerican) I am a City Employee and the Mayor David Gonzalez (aka "Winston Wolf") has enough problems under his own house to be worrying about the Library. We have enough of our own problems in this same building where you sit Mrs. GoodFella. My goodness does the Mayor want to micromanage everything from the pencils we use to the liquid paper? Alright already --- the Library has a board yes that you put in Winston Wolf now step back and let them do their job - they have a director over there..... step back and let him do his job. The Mayor has it out for the Library its common knowledge in these halls......... they have ears! Put your focus on issues directly here with CITY stuff....... let the Library be..... they have been there for decades with no problem and quite honestly I LOVE TAKING MY KIDS THERE!! GET BACK TO WORK "Winston Wolf" stop wasting my tax money with your shenanigans and vendettas......... get to work! Do something FOR THE PEOPLE.
LeeRoy Brown December 19, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Next thing you know Mayor Gonzalez will be again FIRING the entire staff till they can find out who I AM..........then they can come back to work in these same pathetic halls that City Hall has come to be. I cant wait till the next elections............ I think Winston Wolf will be a ONE TERM Mayor! He is not getting my vote.................
NoOne Needs to Know December 19, 2012 at 10:12 PM
I think it's amusing that someone would use the name "GoodFella" consider the history of politicians in this town and pretty much knowing the name Good Fellas is a true story about mafia life. Makes one wonder...or not. Good for you LeeRoy Brown for speaking up about what is really going on over there. It's all corrupt and most of us know it, but those who want change don't have the clout or the money to make the change. If I were making over 90k a year because I received an appointed position (assuming that your insinuation that Mrs. GoodFella is the Chief of Staff), I might protect the mayor, too, but I have scruples, something she appears to be lacking.
LeeRoy Brown December 19, 2012 at 11:26 PM
your absolutely right........ most of US know it! and your also right......... unless you make that money or have the clout to change it ....... its wait till election day and cast your vote the other way....... perhaps the new mayor will treat the Employees with dignity and not have the dogs roaming around the halls all the time like the current mayor. If Winston the Mayor Gonzalez keeps all the focus on the Library then it takes the focus off of him......... and our lovely CITY HALL.
David December 19, 2012 at 11:32 PM
How much money has the park district stockpiled?
JayZ December 20, 2012 at 03:12 PM
You did not vote for him the first run, Mike! LOL Go feed Gussy
hammerhead December 22, 2012 at 05:45 AM
What a misleading title! Wow, Chicago Heights is stockpiling money? We must be doing a great job managing it...oh wait, only the Library is stockpiling money. Only the Library is managing their money ....too bad it got penalized for doing the right thing. That's why you need to get out and VOTE!......Still the headline is misleading
LeeRoy Brown December 23, 2012 at 10:12 PM
I would much rather our Library have a positive cash flow and have OPEN DOORs than to be in predicament of haveing NO MONEY and on the verge of Closing its doors!

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