On Friday, January 26, the Village of Lake Bluff disbursed $84,474 to the Lake Bluff Public Library for its share of Personal Property Replacement Taxes (PPRT) going back to 1980. As Library Board President Bonnie Shaul states, “The Village Board showed tremendous commitment in swiftly correcting this inadvertent error and acknowledging that, despite current financial challenges, the Lake Bluff Public Library will remain a core asset of the Lake Bluff community years into the future.”
As a public entity, Lake Bluff Public Library is heavily reliant on local funds to support operating costs and provide services to the community. In fact, Lake Bluff Public Library is nearly entirely funded by local property tax. According to the Library Board-approved FY23-24 Budget, approximately 94% of the Library’s operating budget is funded by these taxes. In comparison with other Lake Bluff taxing entities, the Library represents less than 2% of a Lake Bluff resident's total property tax bill. Other sources of funding that make up the remaining 6% of the Library’s FY23-24 Budget include the Public Library Per Capita Grant disbursed by the Illinois Secretary of State, donations from the Friends of the Lake Bluff Library, and donations from the Lake Bluff Library Foundation.
What is PPRT?
Another type of tax that supports local government entities is called PPRT, which stands for Personal Property Replacement Tax. Library Director Renee Grassi first learned about this tax attending a state-wide conference for Illinois Library Directors in August, 2023. PPRT is revenue collected by the State of Illinois and paid to local governments to replace money that was lost by local governments when their powers to impose personal property taxes on corporations, partnerships, and other business entities were taken away. In 1979, a new law was enacted to provide for statewide taxes to replace the monies lost to local governments. The first disbursement of PPRT to local government entities on record was made in 1980.
How was the $84,474 amount determined?
The amount of PPRT disbursed to a public library is based on the percentage of total funds levied during tax year 1977. Village Administration researched historical documents from 1977 and found Lake Bluff Public Library levied 4% of the total sum levied that year. Village Administration then acquired historical documents from the Illinois Department of Revenue to determine the total amount of PPRT payments received by the Village from 1980, the first year of PPRT disbursement, to present. After discussion and negotiation from both Library and Village Boards, a new intergovernmental agreement was established and signed to ensure the Library’s receipt of historical PPRT payments and its proportionate share of annual PPRT disbursements going forward.
Why is this tax not disbursed directly to the Library?
Lake Bluff Public Library is a public entity that levies through the Village of Lake Bluff for its annual levy. PPRT payments are made from the State of Illinois directly to the local unit of government. As a result, the Village acts a pass-through agency for disbursing PPRT to the Library. Historical information about precedence regarding PPRT disbursements could not be found at either the Village or Library. The Library and the Village Board’s new Intergovernmental Agreement acts as an official public record that sets precedence and clarity for the futures of both institutions.
How will the Library spend this money?
Library Director Renee Grassi and the Library Board of Trustees have been discussing financial priorities of the Library since her tenure began in January, 2023. As she shared with journalist Dan Dorfman in his Chicago Tribune article on the subject, Grassi reports that with an aging building, “maintenance costs are a top priority.” For example, throughout the month of January, the Library experienced gas leaks due to HVAC malfunction and needed an emergency replacement of the furnace.
Regarding capital planning, the Library Board will receive a Final Report from building consultant Engberg Anderson Architects featuring the state of the Library’s building systems, as well as accessibility compliance. This presentation will include findings and recommendations to guide the Library Board's short term and long term capital goals. The Final report and presentation is scheduled to be presented at the upcoming Board meeting scheduled February 20, 2024 at 7 pm.
The Library recently completed financial planning for increasing personnel costs as well. During the January 2024 Board meeting, the Board approved the organization’s new Salary Pay Grades and Pay Structure documents, which were developed as a result of a salary benchmarking project completed in November by Human Resource consultant services HR Source. The Final Report showed that 20 out of 21 Lake Bluff Public Library employees are currently paid under market value for their jobs. The total cost to the Library to apply these salary adjustments effective May 1, 2024 at the start of the new Fiscal Year will be approximately $150,000.
Director Grassi and Trustees are scheduled to attend a Library Board Retreat at the end of February to continue discussion and planning on financial goals and priorities. During this retreat, they will discuss the organization's current financial standing, hear a presentation from a registered municipal advisory firm on financial opportunities, and strategize for future Library needs. Library Administration and the Board of Trustees will continue discussion of financial priorities and how PPRT payments will be allocated at the February 20, 2024 Board Meeting.
View the following resources for more information about the Library's PPRT disbursement:
- Regular Library Board Meeting, January 24, 2024
- Regular Village Board Meeting, January 22, 2024
- Minutes from the Special Meeting of the Library Board, January 10, 2024
- Committee of the Whole Village Board Meeting, January 8, 2024
- Regular LibraryBoard Meeting, December 12, 2024
Email Library Director Renee Grassi for any questions.