PRINCETON — The Princeton City Council was divided Monday night on whether the Princeton Public Library should receive additional tax dollars.
Council members approved a resolution on a 3-2 vote authorizing a levy of $17,496 and assessing a tax for the library for building and maintenance purposes.
In related action, another 3-2 vote happened on the first reading of the city’s tax levy ordinance of $1,785,930 that included the new tax funds for the library. The ordinance will get a second reading at the council meeting on Dec. 18.
Council members Ray Swanson and Laura Favia voted against the resolution and ordinance, while Jerry Neumann, Ray Mabry and Joel Quiram voted in favor of these measures.
Prior to the library resolution’s passage, Neumann asked library representatives why they handed out $4,300 in holiday bonuses, which could have been used for building maintenance.
Carolyn Schaefer, vice president of the library’s board of trustees, said the average library employee is paid $9.41 an hour with no benefits.
She said the board wanted to show gratitude and appreciation to the 17 full- and part-time employees who work hard and look for ways to save money. Holiday bonuses handed out to library employees average $241while city of Princeton employees receive a $15 chamber gift card.
Neumann said he was questioning the perception of using taxpayer dollars for holiday bonuses.
Schaefer said that council members can’t compare what it is done for unionized city employees, who have higher wages, with library employees who aren’t unionized.
Quiram said the library is one of the city’s greatest assets, and staff members do a great job.
Swanson said he would like Rachel Skaggs, city manager, to look at the library’s budget in the future to look at budget cuts.
Schaefer said it is the library board’s responsibility to make a budget and look at expenditures.
Quiram said the city of Princeton must pass the library’s levy request due to the Local Illinois Library Act, which gives the library board the authority to spend the tax dollars.
In addition to the $17,496 for building and maintenance purposes for the library, the city will levy $20,290 for Social Security; $33,560 for IMRF; $151,530 for bonds, and $325,754 for the library, for a total of $548,630.
Paul Ernst, library board president, had told the council at its last meeting that the building and maintenance funds will be used for long-term projects like a new HVAC system on the roof, roof maintenance and/or replacement, parking lot paving, and a fire suppression system for the history room to prevent damage to the items stored there.