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McHenry library board OKs flat levy

McHENRY – The McHenry Public Library District will not collect more in property taxes next year.

Its board of trustees decided to hold the levy level, at just more than $3.1 million, over concerns about the economy.

“Given the struggles taxpayers are still facing, and with the overall economy and local growth remaining sluggish, our main responsibility is to make prudent decisions with taxpayer dollars,” board President Frank Marasco said in a news release.

The library district falls under the state tax cap, which was passed in 1991 in an effort to rein in rising property taxes. The tax ties the amount governments can levy to the rate of inflation or 5 percent, whichever is less.

Under the cap this year, the library district could have collected an additional 3 percent, or $100,000, without going to voters.

The decision was made despite the expectation that library materials and employee health insurance costs will rise, the release said.

“Our budget will be the same as this year’s, so we’ll have to tighten our belts and make sure we’re using taxpayer dollars wisely while still striving to provide quality library services and programs to our patrons,” Marasco said. 

For property owners living in the library district, about 3 percent of their property-tax bill goes to the library. An additional 7 percent goes to the city of McHenry, and about 64 percent goes to the school districts.

Last summer, library officials paid off the $600,000 in bonds taken out for the renovation of the library. The bonds didn’t have to be paid off until 2014.

The bonds were acquired through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009, also known as the federal stimulus act.

As part of the program, half of the interest was rebated to the district.

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