Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Twice in 84 Years...

One comment that has surfaced about this referendum deals with the issue of higher taxes and how "they keep raising our taxes." "They" are certainly not the Library!

The Plainfield Public Library District has, since its inception in 1925 as the Village Library, passed a tax rate increase exactly once.

Yes, you read that right. Once. The 1990 building bond referendum that will be paid off in 2010, reducing the Library's tax rate, is the only tax rate increase in the Library's history.

How is that possible? It's all about the generosity of three families.

In 1925, Ebanezer & Celeste Nimmons left a $25,000 estate to either the Village of Plainfield or to Plainfield Township for the establishment of a tax supported public library. Later that year, voters approved the creation of the tax-supported Nimmons Village of Plainfield Free Public Library.

In 1940, George and Marietta McClester willed the Village Library their charitable remainder trust to "erect a public library in this City." The McClester-Nimmons Village of Plainfield Free Public Library opened its doors to the public on June 1, 1941. That name can still be seen on the headstone over the former entrance to the library.

In 1954, the Village Library became the sole beneficiary of Fannie Stratton's 160-acre farm. Proceeds from the sale of crops (corn and soybeans) were used to supplement the Library's operating budget. The farm remained a source of operating revenue for the library for 34 years.

In 1988, the Stratton farm was sold at public auction for $1.5 million.

After an unsuccessful referendum for a $3 million in building bond in 1989, the Library Board reduced the 1990 referendum to a $1.9 million building bond, using nearly $1 million of the farm sale proceeds to supplement that amount.

The remainder of the farm sale proceeds, along with developer donations, funded the completion of the Library's lower level in 1996.

It is by the generosity of the Nimmons, McClester, and Stratton families that the Library was able to operate for 84 years with only a single tax rate increase.

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