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DeKALB – A local resident said Tuesday that he plans to file an injunction to stop the DeKalb Public Library from passing its 2010 property tax levy.
Mac McIntyre, a DeKalb resident who runs a blog about county issues, said he has sought legal counsel in an effort to stop the library’s tax levy from being approved.
“They have arrived at this tax levy at an illegal and improper way,” he said. “I am trying to avoid spending taxpayers’ money in a lawsuit.”
An injunction is usually a complaint where allegations are made that would justify a court order to block something that already has occurred or has just occurred, DeKalb County State’s Attorney John Farrell told the Daily Chronicle in October, when McIntyre proposed filing an injunction against the library board on a different issue.
During Monday night’s DeKalb City Council meeting, McIntryre asked aldermen to not approve the library’s levy request.
He said the library board did not receive approval to accumulate funds for the purpose of building or purchasing a site for a new library, which he said was the intent of board members. McIntyre said that is a violation of the Illinois Local Library Act.
But DeKalb City Attorney Norma Guess said the city council does not have the authority to not approve the library’s levy.
At its Nov. 10 meeting, the library board approved a tax levy, which is the total amount collected by a local government from taxpayers. It is based on the total equalized assessed value of property in the district.
The levy for the library for next year is estimated to be about $1.8 million, according to city documents. The current tax rate is 27.5 cents per $100 of owned property. If approved, next year’s rate and levy for the library would be the same as this year. The levy amount is an estimate and is based on preliminary information from the county’s assessment office.
McIntyre brought his concern before the city council because the DeKalb Public Library is a component unit of the city of DeKalb. This means all the city is required to do is levy on the library’s behalf each year, Guess said. The levy for the city and library are shown separately on each tax bill.
The Illinois Local Library Act states: “The library taxes provided for in this Act shall be levied by the corporate authorities in the amounts determined by the board and collected in like manner with other general taxes of the city, village, incorporated town or township and the proceeds shall be deposited in a special fund, which shall be known as the library fund.”
The act goes on to say that any expenditures from the library shall be under the direction of its board.
“The state statue is clear,” Guess said. “…The corporate authority shall approve the levy.”
Library Board President Wendell Johnson said Tuesday during a telephone interview that he “wasn’t at the meeting [Monday] night” and declined to comment further.
McIntyre said he doesn’t know when he will file the injunction, but noted that a public hearing and the council’s second reading of the city’s levy – which will include the library’s levy – is scheduled for Dec. 13. The levy is required to be filed by the city by the last Tuesday in December.
“What I would like to see the board do is follow the law and put a plan together, in sight of the public,” he said, “and get caught up with the law.”
This is not the first time that McIntyre has considered legal action against the library board. McIntyre said in October that he intended to file an injunction against the library board for entering into an agreement to buy the old DeKalb Clinic property for $1.8 million. But during an Oct. 13 meeting, the library board voted to terminate that agreement, citing environmental issues in the former clinic buildings in the 200 block of Franklin Street.
That action followed an investigation by the DeKalb County state’s attorney after concerns were raised by local media and residents about whether a May 12 vote in closed session to enter into a purchase agreement to buy the old DeKalb Clinic property violated the Open Meetings Act. Farrell and the library board resolved that conflict in an Oct. 5 agreement.