Now the Library
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Action Needed

Midlothian, IL

#1 Jul 18, 2014
This is an outrage! If these funds have been paid by the Taxpayers for use by the library, then the library should receive them. It seems the Taxpayers have been fooled again

.http://southtownstar.suntimes .com/news/kadner/28710573-452/ kadner-library-threatens-to-su e-blue-island.html#.U8mVkWdOXI U
Action Needed

Midlothian, IL

#2 Jul 18, 2014
Kadner: Library threatens to sue Blue Island
To avoid a pending financial crisis, the city of Blue Island claimed more than $400,000 in property tax money that the local public library claims rightfully belongs to it.
An expert in the area of public library law told the Southtown Star that the city likely acted illegally if it took tax money intended for library maintenance and uses it for some other purpose.
Library board members, who are appointed by the mayor, discussed filing a lawsuit on Wednesday if the city does not return the funds.
Mayor Domingo Vargas and Blue Island Treasurer Carmine Bilotto told me that in their view the city imposes the tax levy on behalf of the library and is entitled to determine how much it will collect and how the money is used.
However, the Illinois Local Library Act states that “taxes provided for in the Act shall be levied by the corporate authorities in the amounts determined by the (library) board and collected in like manner with other general taxes ... and the proceeds shall be deposited in a special fund, which shall be known as the library fund.”
In a court case involving the village of Winfield, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled a municipality’s duty to levy a tax to fund the library’s budget is ministerial “rather than discretionary,” meaning the city doesn’t have any option.
When I asked city officials if they had consulted a lawyer before reducing the library’s tax levy, they said they had talked to “an accountant, a CPA.”
But the legal arguments may not be as simple as they appear because under state law there are several different ways that public libraries can operate.
There are public library districts, independent government bodies with elected boards that have the power to levy their own property taxes.
There are public libraries whose boards are elected, but who use the authority of a village government to collect tax revenue through property taxes (Winfield is an example).
And then there are public libraries like the one in Blue Island, whose board members are appointed by the mayor. The library district asks for a certain amount of money from property taxes and the city uses its taxing authority to collect it.
Under state law, the maximum tax rate for that purpose for cities of 500,0000 or fewer inhabitants is 0.15 percent of the value of all taxable property in the city.
City officials in Blue Island contend that by seeking the maximum amount of money under the tax rate, the public library limited the amount of money the city can collect due to a state-imposed property tax cap.
The Blue Island library board had set its tax levy at $1,568,500, but when tax bills arrived this April the board members said they discovered the city had lowered the levy and was collecting only $799,738.
City officials said the maximum amount sought by the library couldn’t have been obtained because assessed property values in Blue Island had decreased, meaning that at the maximum tax rate the public library could have received slightly less than $1.2 million, although the city decided to collect far less than that for the library fund.
“They never even told us this was happening, although they knew about it as far back as January,” said Colleen Waltman, the library director.“We didn’t know what was happening until the property tax bills started arriving this month.”
Kevin Murphy, vice president of the library board, said:“The city was short of money and so they got some the old-fashioned way. They took it.”
Action Needed

Midlothian, IL

#3 Jul 18, 2014
Joe Eggert, the library board president, said the board’s responsibility is to look out for the welfare of the library.

The fact is that even if city officials wanted to give the money back at this point, Blue Island’s financial position is such that it might not be able to pay its bills or employee salaries.

“And our concern is that the city’s situation isn’t likely to get a lot better in the near future, so this could be an ongoing problem,” Eggert said.

Bilotto told me the library has $1.2 million in reserve, but Eggert and Waltman disputed that, saying that figure is based on an audit in 2013 and the amount of money now in reserve is about $850,000.

Eggert and Waltman said the library now will dip into that reserve, will not replace two vacancies on the staff, charge some minimal fees for services that previously were free, buy fewer books and cut spending in other areas to make up for the budget shortfall.

In a statement sent to me via email, city officials stated “there are three things that we used to determine the library levy.”

“1. As of the last audit, the library had Cash Reserves of $1,224,023 with a budget of $1,426,000.

“2. The Library budgeted $996,000 for salaries and expenses in FY 2013 and expended $1,070,588 ($74,558 over budget).

“3. With the PTELL limits, they were only going to be able to get $1,197,346 (they asked for approximately $1,400,000).

“We levied $785,436 for the library.

“The reduction to the Library Levy is $411,927.”

Robert Bush, an attorney for Ancel Glink, considered an expert in local library law, said that in his opinion the city has no authority to lower the tax levy based on Illinois case law.

Vargas said Blue Island is consulting with its municipal lawyer, but he believes different lawyers legitimately can have differing views of the law.

Blue Island City Clerk Randy Heuser said that the city has many different property tax rates it imposes for various entities under its control and that the library is merely another one.

Reducing the library’s tax rate allows the city to collect money to fund other services and still stay beneath the state imposed tax cap, Heuser said.

Vargas and Bilotto emphasized that all the library board members had been appointed by the previous mayor, Donald Peloquin.

There is a vacancy on what should be a nine-member board that Vargas has not filled.

It seems to me that one government body that failed to budget wisely in the past is punishing another that lived within its means.

If this turns into a legal battle, the only people who will win are the lawyers.









Action Needed

Midlothian, IL

#4 Jul 18, 2014
To avoid a pending financial crisis, the city of Blue Island claimed more than $400,000 in property tax money that the local public library claims rightfully belongs to it.

An expert in the area of public library law told the SouthtownStar that the city likely acted illegally if it took tax money intended for library maintenance and uses it for some other purpose.

Library board members, who are appointed by the mayor, discussed filing a lawsuit on Wednesday if the city does not return the funds.

Mayor Domingo Vargas and Blue Island Treasurer Carmine Bilotto told me that in their view the city imposes the tax levy on behalf of the library and is entitled to determine how much it will collect and how the money is used.

However, the Illinois Local Library Act states that “taxes provided for in the Act shall be levied by the corporate authorities in the amounts determined by the (library) board and collected in like manner with other general taxes ... and the proceeds shall be deposited in a special fund, which shall be known as the library fund.”

In a court case involving the village of Winfield, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled a municipality’s duty to levy a tax to fund the library’s budget is ministerial “rather than discretionary,” meaning the city doesn’t have any option.

When I asked city officials if they had consulted a lawyer before reducing the library’s tax levy, they said they had talked to “an accountant, a CPA.”

But the legal arguments may not be as simple as they appear because under state law there are several different ways that public libraries can operate.

There are public library districts, independent government bodies with elected boards that have the power to levy their own property taxes.

There are public libraries whose boards are elected, but who use the authority of a village government to collect tax revenue through property taxes (Winfield is an example).

And then there are public libraries like the one in Blue Island, whose board members are appointed by the mayor. The library district asks for a certain amount of money from property taxes and the city uses its taxing authority to collect it.

Under state law, the maximum tax rate for that purpose for cities of 500,0000 or fewer inhabitants is 0.15 percent of the value of all taxable property in the city.

City officials in Blue Island contend that by seeking the maximum amount of money under the tax rate, the public library limited the amount of money the city can collect due to a state-imposed property tax cap.

The Blue Island library board had set its tax levy at $1,568,500, but when tax bills arrived this April the board members said they discovered the city had lowered the levy and was collecting only $799,738.

City officials said the maximum amount sought by the library couldn’t have been obtained because assessed property values in Blue Island had decreased, meaning that at the maximum tax rate the public library could have received slightly less than $1.2 million, although the city decided to collect far less than that for the library fund.

“They never even told us this was happening, although they knew about it as far back as January,” said Colleen Waltman, the library director.“We didn’t know what was happening until the property tax bills started arriving this month.”

Kevin Murphy, vice president of the library board, said:“The city was short of money and so they got some the old-fashioned way. They took it.”
Buzzards

Orland Park, IL

#5 Jul 18, 2014
They need that money to pay for all the lawn crews hired to manage foreclosed properties and empty lots.
Buzzards

Orland Park, IL

#6 Jul 18, 2014
If they hired Don Peloquin as city manager instead of Rita it would have been hidden better and we would know no different.
Must be on the payroll

Blue Island, IL

#7 Jul 18, 2014
Buzzards wrote:
If they hired Don Peloquin as city manager instead of Rita it would have been hidden better and we would know no different.
Like the current administration is honest and tells you everything that they are doing. Until people like you make the current crew of thugs accountable for their actions , we will continue to get taken advantage of by them.
No Surprise

Maywood, IL

#8 Jul 18, 2014
Last year, Domingo wanted a loan from the library and the library said; No. So this year he took what he wanted/needed. As a criminal defense attorney he knows better.
Its Only Money

Alsip, IL

#9 Jul 18, 2014
From Kadner's article:
When I asked city officials if they had consulted a lawyer before reducing the library’s tax levy, they said they had talked to “an accountant, a CPA.”

Since when has a CPA become an expert on municipal law? Why wasn't the city's municipal law attorney contacted first?
Will the Headlines Read

Maywood, IL

#10 Jul 19, 2014
"Ignorance of Law Provides; No Defense"
reality

Orland Park, IL

#11 Jul 19, 2014
No more pencils
No more books
Blue Island is full of crooks
Fed Up

Blue Island, IL

#12 Jul 19, 2014
Its Only Money wrote:
From Kadner's article:
When I asked city officials if they had consulted a lawyer before reducing the library’s tax levy, they said they had talked to “an accountant, a CPA.”
Since when has a CPA become an expert on municipal law? Why wasn't the city's municipal law attorney contacted first?
Who was this accountant? Hawley?
duh

Blue Island, IL

#13 Jul 19, 2014
Blue Island is dying before our eyes, it's really just about dead. The library money is just one more thing that illustrates this dying town and the City incompetence. who would want to move here? The library board seems to be made up of people who are friends with the new admin.,(no matter when or who appointed them), they attend the same functions, parties, helped the current admin. get elected, etc. what's really going on here? one more city fund that disappears. i doubt the library board will take any action. they'll cluck about it, but do nothing. We have these one time events in the City that look really progressive; bikes, art, street fairs, murals, etc. but nothing that is sustainable or long term to improve our tax base. It's all busy work for City employees to look like their doing something new and unique to improve the City, but it's just to keep their City jobs.
Are we really surprised the money disappeared?
Did or Did Not

Maywood, IL

#14 Jul 19, 2014
Action Needed wrote:
Kadner: Library threatens to sue Blue Island
To avoid a pending financial crisis, the city of Blue Island claimed more than $400,000 in property tax money that the local public library claims rightfully belongs to it.
An expert in the area of public library law told the Southtown Star that the city likely acted illegally if it took tax money intended for library maintenance and uses it for some other purpose.
Library board members, who are appointed by the mayor, discussed filing a lawsuit on Wednesday if the city does not return the funds.
Mayor Domingo Vargas and Blue Island Treasurer Carmine Bilotto told me that in their view the city imposes the tax levy on behalf of the library and is entitled to determine how much it will collect and how the money is used.
However, the Illinois Local Library Act states that “taxes provided for in the Act shall be levied by the corporate authorities in the amounts determined by the (library) board and collected in like manner with other general taxes ... and the proceeds shall be deposited in a special fund, which shall be known as the library fund.”
In a court case involving the village of Winfield, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled a municipality’s duty to levy a tax to fund the library’s budget is ministerial “rather than discretionary,” meaning the city doesn’t have any option.
When I asked city officials if they had consulted a lawyer before reducing the library’s tax levy, they said they had talked to “an accountant, a CPA.”
But the legal arguments may not be as simple as they appear because under state law there are several different ways that public libraries can operate.
There are public library districts, independent government bodies with elected boards that have the power to levy their own property taxes.
There are public libraries whose boards are elected, but who use the authority of a village government to collect tax revenue through property taxes (Winfield is an example).
And then there are public libraries like the one in Blue Island, whose board members are appointed by the mayor. The library district asks for a certain amount of money from property taxes and the city uses its taxing authority to collect it.
Under state law, the maximum tax rate for that purpose for cities of 500,0000 or fewer inhabitants is 0.15 percent of the value of all taxable property in the city.
City officials in Blue Island contend that by seeking the maximum amount of money under the tax rate, the public library limited the amount of money the city can collect due to a state-imposed property tax cap.
The Blue Island library board had set its tax levy at $1,568,500, but when tax bills arrived this April the board members said they discovered the city had lowered the levy and was collecting only $799,738.
City officials said the maximum amount sought by the library couldn’t have been obtained because assessed property values in Blue Island had decreased, meaning that at the maximum tax rate the public library could have received slightly less than $1.2 million, although the city decided to collect far less than that for the library fund.
“They never even told us this was happening, although they knew about it as far back as January,” said Colleen Waltman, the library director.“We didn’t know what was happening until the property tax bills started arriving this month.”
Kevin Murphy, vice president of the library board, said:“The city was short of money and so they got some the old-fashioned way. They took it.”
Was there an ACTUAL VOTE by The Blue Island City Council to approve this ACTION?
Down hill from here

Blue Island, IL

#16 Jul 19, 2014
duh wrote:
Blue Island is dying before our eyes, it's really just about dead. The library money is just one more thing that illustrates this dying town and the City incompetence. who would want to move here? The library board seems to be made up of people who are friends with the new admin.,(no matter when or who appointed them), they attend the same functions, parties, helped the current admin. get elected, etc. what's really going on here? one more city fund that disappears. i doubt the library board will take any action. they'll cluck about it, but do nothing. We have these one time events in the City that look really progressive; bikes, art, street fairs, murals, etc. but nothing that is sustainable or long term to improve our tax base. It's all busy work for City employees to look like their doing something new and unique to improve the City, but it's just to keep their City jobs.
Are we really surprised the money disappeared?
No, don't be surprised. Were not.
We believe

Blue Island, IL

#17 Jul 19, 2014
No more gloom and doom. We started posting under this name almost a year ago in response to the blatant patronage appointments made by the BIIP under Vargas. Our name is a sarcastic jab at the "political" newsletter that Hawley writes. We have been astute to every single move that the BIIP makes. Now, sooner than we expected, we watch them fall. Partying at a minimum. Backbiting in full swing. JR blaming who for the library's mismanagement of funds? Blue Island rejoice!! These thugs are done. Take Vargas, Hawley and John Rita along with their puppet Bilotto and toss them to the curb where they belong. Hold them accountable for their actions. Do not let them play the blame game. I mean, seriously, who holds a parade and fireworks instead of providing educational activities at a library? I know who does.... A bunch of washed up, hard drinking, loser politico's. Bam!
Sid

Alsip, IL

#18 Jul 19, 2014
duh wrote:
Blue Island is dying before our eyes, it's really just about dead. The library money is just one more thing that illustrates this dying town and the City incompetence. who would want to move here? The library board seems to be made up of people who are friends with the new admin.,(no matter when or who appointed them), they attend the same functions, parties, helped the current admin. get elected, etc. what's really going on here? one more city fund that disappears. i doubt the library board will take any action. they'll cluck about it, but do nothing. We have these one time events in the City that look really progressive; bikes, art, street fairs, murals, etc. but nothing that is sustainable or long term to improve our tax base. It's all busy work for City employees to look like their doing something new and unique to improve the City, but it's just to keep their City jobs.
Are we really surprised the money disappeared?
The library trustees are prepared to fight and are not friends with any politician. They are honorable people and were all appointed by the previous mayor since they love the library. These public-service-inspired-truste es do not get a penny for their service and are angry, heartsick, and pissed at this vile money grab.
Bam

Maywood, IL

#20 Jul 19, 2014
We believe wrote:
No more gloom and doom. We started posting under this name almost a year ago in response to the blatant patronage appointments made by the BIIP under Vargas. Our name is a sarcastic jab at the "political" newsletter that Hawley writes. We have been astute to every single move that the BIIP makes. Now, sooner than we expected, we watch them fall. Partying at a minimum. Backbiting in full swing. JR blaming who for the library's mismanagement of funds? Blue Island rejoice!! These thugs are done. Take Vargas, Hawley and John Rita along with their puppet Bilotto and toss them to the curb where they belong. Hold them accountable for their actions. Do not let them play the blame game. I mean, seriously, who holds a parade and fireworks instead of providing educational activities at a library? I know who does.... A bunch of washed up, hard drinking, loser politico's. Bam!
Willingly Scamming, Destroying, and Denying.
Mike

Blue Island, IL

#21 Jul 20, 2014
Bam wrote:
<quoted text>
Willingly Scamming, Destroying, and Denying.
Powerful words, but we agree.
Bob

Blue Island, IL

#22 Jul 20, 2014
Lets shred the books. Who needs a library. Lets bring 'em to city hall and burn them!

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