LibraryShelvesIllinois residents would be less likely to find themselves living within the boundaries of a new library taxing district without their consent under legislation proposed by Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill).

Senate Bill 864 was prompted by a situation in Manar’s district in southern Macoupin County where a municipal library converted to a public library district with new boundaries that included three communities that were not taxed prior to the conversion. He said similar instances are occurring around the state.

Because of vague phrasing in current Illinois law, residents of those communities did not have a direct say in whether they wished to be included in the new taxing district for a library many miles away from their homes.

Manar said the gray area in the law prevents property taxpayers from having direct authority to challenge the proposed library district.

“We frown on taxation without representation in this country, which is why it’s so important that we straighten out the ambiguity in state law that allowed this to happen,” he said. “Vibrant, growing libraries are a wonderful thing, but any time we expand a taxing district we must do so with as much transparency and opportunity for public input as possible.”

Senate Bill 864 would prevent a public library from converting to a library district that includes areas not previously taxed before the conversion without direct approval of local governments. The intent is to close two loopholes in current law that could allow a municipal library to become a library district without the consent of municipalities and areas that would be included and taxed in the new district.

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