The Homewood Public Library board of trustees welcomed three new members and approved its 2018 budget at the May 17 meeting.
Outgoing board president Murray Barr administered the oath of office to three members. Percy Harris, who has been serving since July 2015, won election to a full six-year term. The oath was also administered to Adrienne River, who was elected to six-year term, and Patricia Mosley Smith, who won election to a four-year term.
Jacoba Ward, who also won a six-year term, was absent. She will take the oath in June.
The board still needs to fill a two-year vacancy. At its June meeting the board will discuss how best to find the seventh board member.
The board approved the 2018 budget of $2.38 million. The new fiscal year starts July 1.
Over three budget cycles, the library has reported a loss of $348,620 in revenue, said Executive Director Amy Crump. The equalized assessed value (EAV) of property in Homewood dipped and Cook County was unable to collect the full 100 percent of tax revenue because of tax delinquencies. In 2017, the county collected 97 percent, which Crump noted was an improvement over past years.
The library is also under state-imposed property tax caps. The board can only increase taxes by 5 percent or the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is less. Last year, the library was held to a .07 percent CPI increase.
As revenues dropped, the library board in 2015 debated what action to take to balance the books, Crump said. A decision to reduce staff hours was made by the board and library administration team. Full-time employees dropped from 35 to 33 hours per week. Because the Affordable Care Act says anyone working 30 hours or more is a full-time employee, the library’s staff health insurance was not cut.
Library employees want to continue the exceptional service for patrons, Crump said. They joined with the board and a community planning team to develop a three-year strategic plan. Now they are working on ways to implement six objectives, including:
Being a repository for information relating to community agencies and organizations
Updating technology for online literacy
Helping the community be more aware of local and global communities through events, services and collections
Organizing events focused on health, wealth and other topics that impact patrons
Expanding the young readers' technology area
Reviewing how to make the library space work for more users
A strategic plan flier is available at the library.
Crump thanked community planning team members Ashanti Bethea, Jennie Bohlman, Fred Chaney, Kate Duff, Anisa Hussain, PJ Murray, Kate Purvis, Joyce Semmler, Zach Thomas and Ann-Marie Weber for the time they spent on the strategic plan.