By Bob Balgemann


The new Ida Public Library director, Mindy Long, has continued her planned monthly visits to meetings of the city Committee of the Whole, Public Works, bringing updates on the internal workings of the vast resource center. This time she also presented a revised 2021-22 budget to aldermen and Mayor Clint Morris, the original of which had been a source of controversy during tax levy discussions earlier this year. 

First, she pointed out the numerous ways in which the library continued its monthly growth. 

In August there were 4,905 checkouts and renewals of materials; 288 requests for materials from outside the 183-library consortium to which Ida belongs; 249 new library cards were issued; there were 70 new patrons; and 518 new items were added to the facility’s various collections. 

Then came the budget, which drew most of the attention the evening of Sept. 20. 

The overall 2021-22 balanced budget has $915,385 in projected revenue and $844,025 in expenses. Of that income, $744,525 comes from the local tax levy, for which a divided city council approved an $18,300 increase last spring. The library has limited sources of revenue, among them the state-supplied per capita fund, for which Long provided some details.

She said Gov. Pritzker this year authorized an increase from $1.20 to $1.45 per person, based on the city’s population. That meant an increase from $25,000 to $37,738, which she said the library used for additions to the collections and to hire a pre-school planner. 

“We were sadly in need of someone in that pre-school age, the 0-4 age,” she said. 

The library also receives dividends from the List and Sullivan trust funds; rents from properties it owns on West Hurlbut Ave. and next to the historic library, 320 N. State St.; various grants; tax replacement fund, which this year is $39,000. The replacement tax comes from the two and one-half percent corporations pay on their net Illinois income. 

Long said one major difference in the revised budget is the $380,000 in wages being paid to staff, up from the original $360,000. That includes the minimum wage increase to $12 an hour, which went into effect Jan. 1. 2021. 

“So, we have three or four staff members going up to that,” she said. “My wages are less than the previous director’s ($72,000) wage.” 

She has asked for that salary, now $55,500, to be frozen for the next two years. She became director in May 2021. 

The salary of the previous director, Louis Carlile, was $54,000 late in 2020 and it subsequently became a point of contention during the tax levy discussion. It initially was stated the entire requested $18,300 increase in the levy would go to the director’s salary, increasing it to $72,000. But later, library board members, including the president, stated that had never been the plan.

In conclusion, Long said, “I tried to make the (revised) budget as clear as possible. If I can’t understand it, you can’t understand it. I have a bookkeeper now who is very good. When you look at per capita on the expense side of things, we’re dividing it into the three things we’re using it for. We can use it for four things and we have to track what we can use it for.” 

The allowable per capita expenditure areas are collection, with this year’s allocation of $18,899; personnel (the pre-school programmer), $15,539; outsourcing, $3,300; and maintenance, $0. That totals $37,738, or the total of the 2021-22 appropriation from the state.

The emergency reserve is now $16,618.  


Alderman Wendy Frank asked about the bank fees and why there had been a big increase. (The line item in the budget showed such fees increasing from $200 to $325). 

“That’s for some of the (mortgage) rolling over,” Long said. “They closed out some accounts, made one mortgage and there were some other fees that had to be taken care of.” 

“Do you have any obituaries?” Frank inquired. 

“Yes, they’re on our website and they go way back,” Long answered. 

Alderman Marsha Freeman asked the director to talk about the library consortium and how that worked. 

“We’re in a consortium with 182 other libraries and that means we all share each other’s resources,” Long said. “It’s a way for us to grow our collections without spending money. We have to pay a fee to be part of it; it’s kind of well worth it.” 

For 2021-22, the fee to belong to a much larger consortium increased from $8,000 to $20,500. 

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