Dear Lyons Community,
I have some grievances with the proposed Library District and Library Steering Committee.
A number of years ago when I was on the Town Board I expressed my skepticism about spending $80,000 for a comprehensive Town management plan because
I wasn’t sure it would be used. But we did create a plan, and the plan was to a significant degree based upon survey results. Let me share with you some of those survey results.
First in the Lyons Comprehensive Plan Survey on Page 4 the people were asked to, “Please rate Lyons as a community on each of the items listed below. 63.6% of the respondents rated the Quality of the library: very good, good or adequate.
While when asked, “Availability and diversity of job opportunities: only 12% gave a good or adequate rating with 44% rating bad and 30% rating very bad.
When asked on page 7, “What taxes would you be willing to increase (if any) to fund the services or improvements that you think are needed?” 47.4% indicated they would support a sales tax increase but only 5.6% supported a property tax.
When asked on Page 13, “Assuming status quo, the Town is projecting a revenue shortfall in five to ten years. The Town’s response should be (please prioritize/rank)”; 69.8% responded “Promote commercial development to increase sales revenue.”
So what does the Steering Committee propose? They propose raising our property taxes 5%, to build a massive new library in Sandstone Park that will cost annually $360,000 in operation, maintenance and debt service. A big new library building would potentially compete with existing commercial development and likely add little or no sales tax revenue.
I served on the Committee briefly, but I didn’t agree with their “group think” and I haven’t gotten any e-mails about meetings in recent times.
One thing we were advised to do when I was on the Steering Committee was to stay ambiguous when people asked us questions about specifics. This was the advice of the Chair to the Steering Committee who added: “This is what people who know how to win these elections tell us.” The idea was many people might not like the specifics, so keep the specifics quiet. Instead, we were told, “Ask them what they would like?”
In a financial prospectus if you intentionally leave out specifics in order to successfully promote you will be sued. Of course no prospectus on this tax increase is needed, but I think full disclosure of intent is ethical.
What I think is unethical is the Steering Committee asking people in surveys and public meetings what they would like in a performance space when it has been made clear to me that none of the 5,000 square feet will be created for performance space. It was never their intent to include performance space.
Furthermore, in the Guiding Principles of the Town of Lyons Comprehensive Plan is the statement: “Balance the demands of trying to achieve environmental and economic sustainability with community character and historical preservation.” The Steering Committee’s Plan would take funds away from historical preservation.
Former Trustee of Lyons Board of Trustees