The Aurora area’s state legislators and the city of Aurora could be on the same page when it comes to the future of the Aurora Public Library.
State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego) said Thursday she is amenable to looking at making the library a more autonomous governmental body, which is what city officials said they are interested in.
At the very least, Kifowit has sponsored HB 910, which would give voters the ability to put a referendum question on the ballot asking to make the library board elected, rather than appointed, as it is now. The bill is co-sponsored by state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora) and state Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) has said she would sponsor it in the Senate.
The bill also would allow the Aurora City Council to put such a referendum on the ballot. The soonest the vote could be on the ballot is March 2020.
Kifowit said she launched her effort after a number of big library issues during the past several years. Some residents criticized the current library board for the way it handled service and personnel cuts made two years ago, and for this past year’s discussion of moving the West Branch of the library.
The board eventually voted to forego any effort to move the West Branch after community reaction.
Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin this week said he could support an elected library board, but called Kifowit’s bill “incomplete.” He and city officials have been moving toward trying to make the library a more autonomous government body.
Currently, the mayor, with approval from the City Council, appoints nine directors to the board.
The library has its own tax levy which is set by the City Council. The library board recommends its budget each year, but that too is approved by the City Council.
Kifowit said she introduced her bill early in the legislative session so it could be changed if desired. She said she would be fine with looking at making it either an autonomous city library, or widening it to become a library district, which would take in unincorporated areas around Aurora.
Library districts are separate taxing bodies, just like park or school districts. They have elected boards.
Many city libraries have appointed boards, although there are many libraries in Illinois with elected board too.
Kifowit said that according to information she got from the Illinois Library Association, there are 600 municipal libraries in the state and about 400 of them have elected boards.
Both Batavia and Elgin are municipal libraries with elected boards in the area. Yorkville is an example of a city library that does things like Aurora, with an appointed board and separate tax levy, but City Council budgetary approval.
Kifowit pointed out that if Aurora became a library district, unincorporated areas such as Moecherville, which is in her district, would be library constituents.
“We’re looking at all options,” she said.
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via Aurora News – Aurora Beacon-News https://trib.in/2MPlf5T
January 31, 2019 at 03:03PM