ST. JACOB, Ill. St. Jacob residents are now without a library, as the village voted overwhelmingly last month to disconnect from their current library district — but they can get a non-resident card for a fee.
Tri-Township Library District was launched in Troy in 1976, and is supported by tax revenues from several towns around Troy. In November, the library district ran a referendum to expand to most areas in the Triad school district. Library Director David Cassens II said it passed in every precinct except St. Jacob 2. The total vote among all the annexed territories was 3,766 to 1,592, and St. Jacob 1 voted in favor of annexation.
“We always wanted to expand our district and let people use the library without having to pay the out-of-district fee, providing library service to everybody,” Cassens said. “It wasn’t about money or land grabbing. It was just about providing services to people who didn’t have it. Sometimes people were coming and didn’t realize they’d have to pay the (nonresident) fee.”
After the fall election, a St. Jacob citizens’ group collected at least 100 signatures in each precinct to place a referendum back on the ballot in the spring. This time St. Jacob voters voted 597-172 to disconnect from Tri-Township Library District, with both districts solidly in favor of disconnection.
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St. Jacob Mayor Richard Schiefer said the library tax rate was “pretty high,” and did not oppose the citizens’ group that promoted the referendum. “My feeling was that the taxes were an issue I was concerned about,” Schiefer said. “I have several rental homes in town, and it would be several hundred dollars for the taxes on the property.”
Organizers for the pro-referendum effort declined to comment, stating only that the voters had spoken.
Anticipating the vote, Cassens said the Tri-Township District opted not to levy taxes on St. Jacob for this year. Thus, St. Jacob residents were never charged property taxes for the library. Tri-Township did not operate a satellite library in St. Jacob, so there is no real estate to change hands.
Schiefer said there are no current plans to develop a city library for residents to use. “It hasn’t been discussed,” he said. Instead, he said, residents can continue to pay the nonresident library fee if they wish to use library services.
According to the Madison County Treasurer’s office, the Tri-Township Library District charges 19.18 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value. For a home valued at $100,000, that home would pay $64 a year. The nonresident library fee is $96 a year.
Residents who want to use library services have to prove that the requested library is the closest library to their homes, under Illinois law. Cassens said Tri-Township is the likely choice as long as they live in the Triad school district. If so, they may purchase a non-resident library card to borrow books, use the computer systems or rent e-books via the Overdrive system maintained by the Lewis & Clark interlibrary system, and those cards are good at any library in the state, he said.
Cassens said previous attempts to expand the library district had failed, as it’s difficult to expand territory. “The people of St. Jacob have a right to disconnect,” he said. “We’re still here for them if they’d like to use our services.”
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2507.