The Village works hard every day to operate as efficiently as possible, and to find ways to collaborate with our other local units of government in order to minimize the cost that is passed along to our residents, as well as to enhance all of our services. We recently became aware that our local public library district, the Ella Johnson Memorial Library District, was looking for a location to house a new library facility in the district. If the library purchased a site along one of the major highways in the area, it would likely cost the library millions of dollars to buy the site, extend water and sewer service, provide stormwater detention, make road connections and otherwise ensure that the site could be useable. As those costs are passed along to all of the Library District’s taxpayers (including Village residents), we wanted to see if we could have a beneficial impact and reduce costs.
The Village Board authorized staff to make a presentation to the Library District, that the Village would donate (free of charge) a site to the library on our Municipal Campus, next to the Municipal Center. This site is served by water and sewer, has available stormwater detention, has access to Reinking Road (with a signalized intersection at Route 72), and would be available at no cost if the Library and Board reached agreement on the site. The site has a beautiful vista looking out over the wetlands, and is served by a fantastic bike/pedestrian path, as well as immediate access to local parks and amenities. As we explained to the library, the site is 4 minutes from Starks Corners according to Google Maps...so for that extra 4 minute drive, the Library could save millions of dollars. From the Village’s perspective, donating the site would give residents access to a great local amenity, and would also help us do our part to reduce the tax burden on all residents of the Library District.
Equally as important for all concerned, the site that the Village proposed is currently publicly owned and tax-exempt. If the library were located here, the sites that the Library District is considering would be kept open for commercial development. This means that these sites would remain available for the commercial and retail businesses that local residents need, and the sites would also remain on the property tax roll, to reduce the reliance of area governments on residential properties as their tax base.
We also proposed that the Village and the Library District could collaborate on shared services to reduce our operating costs. As the Village already engages in snowplowing, lawn mowing, building maintenance and other services, and as these services are at the core of our Public Works functions, it would be possible for the Village and Library to reduce costs by sharing services on a common campus. We are also in the early stages of exploring the potential to share services in the areas of Finance, IT and HR.
This proposal was designed and intended to provide a resource to the Library District, to reduce their costs (and the costs to all District taxpayers), and to provide an opportunity for collaboration and partnership among local government agencies in a way that could be a model for the future. It is essential that governments engage in ’outside the box’ thinking like this, to reduce our costs of operation.
The discussions are in the very early stages, and the Library Board is considering the Village’s offer. We are excited about the potential to partner with the District, and will continue working forward to support the potential of a collaborative project that saves taxpayer dollars for everyone involved. The flyer that the Village provided the Library District is available here.