Funding for the
Champaign Public Library

Last updated 4/14

How is the library funded?

Champaign property tax provides 92% of the library’s funding. User fees, corporate replacement tax, and some miscellaneous income make up the rest of the library’s revenues.  

Additionally, the library seeks private contributions, grants, and sponsorships to support library services and provide enhancements. But while private funding helps keep collections and programs strong, it cannot take the place of tax support.

How is the library governed?

While the library is a part of Champaign City government and receives most of its funding from the City of Champaign, the library is governed by an appointed Board of Trustees. Its budget is approved by both the Library Board and the City Council.

How is the library’s tax levy determined?

The library has a separate property levy set by the Champaign City Council. The levy of 0.4222 has remained the same since 1998.

How much of my property tax bill goes to the library?

If you are a resident of Champaign, 5.3% of your property tax bill goes to the Champaign Public Library. By comparison, 50% of your tax bill goes to the Champaign Unit 4 School District, 12% goes to the City of Champaign, and 8.8% goes to the Champaign Park District.

To find out how your property tax is calculated and distributed, visit ci.champaign.il.us/tax/.

What is the library’s operating budget?

The library’s budget for FY2013-14 is $6.9 million. Because it is a service organization, personnel costs account for the major share of the library’s budget. This is the case for all public libraries.  Other costs include collections, programs, maintenance, and technology.

The FY2013-14 Budget, pdf, is available here.

Each year, an independent audit is conducted on the library’s financial statements, internal controls, and compliance with government accounting standards. 

The FY2012-13 Audit Report, pdf, is available here.

Why has the library sought supplemental funding from the City of Champaign?

The library is part of City government and its funding is determined by the City Council.

Due to the economic turndown, the library’s tax funding has been declining since 2010. Just as it does for everyone else, the cost of doing businesses increases each year for the library.  The combination of decreasing revenues and increased costs have a profound effect on the library’s budget and operations.

Knowing since 2010 that property revenues would be declining for the foreseeable future, the library has taken the following steps to address the funding gap and “live within its means”:

  • Leaving staff positions vacant:
    16 positions were left unfilled as of April 2014
  • Cut the programming budget by 70%
  • Cut the training budget by 33%
  • Cut the materials budget by 10%
  • Eliminated maintenance contracts
  • Delayed replacement of computers, carpeting and furnishings
  • Eliminated the Bookmobile
  • Eliminated the printed newsletter
  • Raised user fees for overdue and rental items and copier use
  • Implemented shared catalog with Urbana Free Library
  • Limited use of the library by non-CU residents
  • Used private funds to keep collections and programs strong

With little else left to cut, eliminating more staff and reducing hours open to the public were the next step. The City Council approved  supplemental funding in FY2013-14 and FY2014-15 from the City of Champaign’s General Fund in order to maintain current library staffing and hours.

What does the future hold?

Because tax revenues are not projected to increase enough in the next five years to cover even its reduced operating costs, the library has these options to maintain a balanced budget beyond FY2014-15:

  • Secure supplemental funding from the City of Champaign until tax revenues rebound. The City Council has the option to allocate money from the City’s General Fund or to increase the library’s tax levy.
  • Reduce personnel beyond the current 16 vacant staff positions. Cutting more staff is the only way the library can reduce spending enough to cover its funding gap and will require a significant reduction in hours open to the public.
  • Impose new user fees such as charging for meeting rooms or parking, although these alone would not be enough to make up the funding gap.

What can I do to keep the library strong?