Monday, December 17, 2012

Two Candidates File on the Filing Period First Day

With four 4-year term Library Trustee positions available in the April 9, 2013 election, the first two candidates have filed their petitions to run. Incumbent Mina Green and newcomer Vicki Knight filed simultaneously at the opening of business today, the first day of the filing period for the April 9, 2013 election.

The order of candidates on the ballot is determined by the order in which candidates file their petitions. All candidates at the doors when the Library opens for business on the first day of the filing period are considered to file simultaneously. A lottery must be held to determine the order in which the candidates will appear on the ballot. The lottery, which is open to the public, will be held on Wednesday, January 2 at 9am in the Library's Business Office.

Seven potential candidates pulled petitions to run for the four Library Trustee positions, but there is no guarantee all seven will file to run. In the 2009 election, more than a dozen potential candidates picked up petitions, but only three filed to run.

Candidates for Library Trustee must file their petitions at the Library's Business Office from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, through Wednesday, December 26. With a similar rule for last position on the ballot, there may be an additional simultaneous filing lottery necessary for those who are present to file at 5pm on December 26.

Monday, December 3, 2012

HVAC Control System Issues Persist

In the ongoing struggle to keep the failing HVAC system at the Library functioning, the latest problem with the controls is making it uncomfortably warm. The control system, which has never quite worked properly in switching back and forth from heating to cooling, has failed to keep up with the recent change in the weather. Once again, the service contractor is on site, working to remedy the problem.

Please be patient as we approach the January HVAC Replacement Project, when the failing systems are replaced. You never can tell if it's going to be too hot or too cold in the Library, so continue to dress in layers as we work to address the aging building's issues.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

January Closings Planned for HVAC Replacement Project

The HVAC Replacement Project contract has been awarded, submittals approved and four new roof top units are ordered. The total project cost is $330,000 (contains allowances for work that may not be used) to replace the four roof top HVAC units, repair ducts, upgrade control boxes, replace the temperature control system and balance the air handling system.

Monday, January 7 through Friday, January 11, the Library will be closed to allow this work to be done. During that time, you may not be able to access the book drops - particularly when the large crane is lifting the old roof top units off and placing the new roof top units on the building! Check outs will be extended and fines waived during this time. This project will allow you to enjoy the Library in comfort in the future.

As some patrons have noticed and commented about to staff, the recent temperature in the Library is either too hot or to cold, depending on the day. Their discomfort only highlights the issues of our aging Library building. Nearly every building component or system is past its useful life. The HVAC Replacement Project is the first of three projects, identified by KJWW Engineering in the building evaluation conducted earlier this year, as being necessary to maintain operation of the Library building. Look for window and shingled roof projects coming in the spring.

Please call ahead or check our web site for the latest information regarding closings before you visit in January!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Thank You, Friends!

The Plainfield Public Library District will be spending the entire week of October 21-27, 2012, celebrating its Friends of the Library group as part of the sixth annual celebration of National Friends of Libraries Week. The Friends of the Plainfield Public Library goals are to bring together individuals interested in the library, to promote public awareness and informed community interest in the library, and to build long term support for the library. The Friends have approximately 120 members and sponsor the following yearly events: Spring Staff Appreciation Luncheon, May Vendor Market/Community Garage Sale, August Used Book Sale, and a September Art & Craft Fair. This year, the proceeds from these events are being used to improve the sound and projection equipment in the Library meeting rooms, including surround sound and a ceiling mounted projector for the Large Meeting Room.
Stop by the Check Out Desk this week to sign our community "Thank You" card to express your appreciation to the Friends - and check out our wonderful Friends on Facebook!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

From the Suggestion Box: A/C is always too strong!

In light of our recent HVAC issues, it is not surprising that library users are feeling the cold, or the heat, too much in certain areas of the Library. The building has four roof-top units (RTUs) that are part of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. They produce warmer or colder air and circulate it through the building. One of the four RTUs is currently circulating air only, not heating or cooling. This cause hot or cold spots in the Library, as the three fully-functional units struggle to keep the average temperature in the building within set limits. The outdated control system on the HVAC in the Library does not allow the kind of granular control that would mitigate the hot or cold spots.

The good news: the project to replace the HVAC RTUs and control system, along with some reworking of air ducts and air balancing, should go out to bid this week. We are awaiting the final set of specifications from KJWW Engineering for the project before publishing the invitation to bid.

The bad news: until the project is done, the best I can do is remind you to wear layers when coming to the Library. With the changing weather, the indoor air temperature is unpredictable.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Question of the Day: What the Truth in Taxation Act Notice Really Means

Yesterday, the Library's Truth in Taxation Act (TITA) notice was published in the Plainfield Enterprise newspaper. This notice is required by law to  be published within a very specific time frame prior to a Truth in Taxation hearing and containing specific wording and calculations. I received my first question in years from a taxpayer regarding this notice following its publication, about how the Library can increase taxes by this amount.

The short answer is, it can't. Regardless of what is levied, the maximum amount of taxes that the Library can collect is set by law and by voters in the district.

The long answer is more complicated.

What the TITA notice does not reflect is the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL aka "the tax cap") and the way in which new or newly improved property is included in the tax extension calculations. The tax cap limits the dollar amount of taxes that can be collected by the Library (or any other taxing body) at what was collected the previous year, plus 5% OR the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the previous year, whichever is less. Generally CPI is the lesser number, as you can see here. Last year, CPI was 3.0%, making the total dollar amount the Library can collect 1.03%.

New property annexed to the district and newly improved property being added to the tax rolls are not included in the base for the tax cap calculation, only in the first year they are on the tax rolls. The Will County Tax Extension Office will reduce the levy amount to that allowed under the tax cap, but they cannot increase it to capture the full amount for new or improved property coming onto the tax rolls. Here's the kicker: it generally takes 12-18 months for a new property to be added to the tax rolls for a taxing district and the levy has to be done far enough in advance that new property figures are estimates. If the Library fails to levy high enough to capture the full value of new property coming onto the tax rolls, the opportunity to increase the tax base amount for subsequent years is lost. The Library is annexing additional property into the district this year, under an intergovernmental agreement with the Village of Plainfield. There are properties being improved and coming onto the tax rolls. Levying high ensures that the full value of these properties are captured in their first year on the tax rolls, which in future years will spread that total dollar amount under the tax cap over a larger tax base.

In addition to all of that, the voters of the district and the law set the maximum tax rate for the district. Under the tax cap, the district's tax rate can fluctuate up and down, according to CPI and the total value of property in the district. But the voter-approved tax rate is an additional limit on the amount that can be collected.

Below is the text of the notice published yesterday. Note that new property is not referenced in the mandated text, only the total dollar amount.

                             WILL AND KENDALL COUNTIES, ILLINOIS

I.        A public hearing to approve a proposed property tax levy increase for Plainfield Public Library District, Will and Kendall Counties, Illinois, for 2011 will be held on September 19, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. at the Plainfield Public Library at 15025 South Illinois Street, Plainfield, Illinois.

          Any person desiring to appear at the public hearing and present testimony to the taxing District may contact Julie Milavec, Library Administrator, at the Plainfield Public Library at 15025 South Illinois Street, Plainfield, Illinois, phone (815) 436-6639.

II.       The corporate and special purpose property taxes extended or abated for 2011 were $ 3,340,000.

          The proposed corporate and special purpose property taxes to be levied for 2012 are $3,880,000.  This represents a 16.16% increase over the previous year.

III.      The property taxes extended for debt service and public building commission leases for 2011 were $ -0-.

          The estimated property taxes to be levied for debt service and public building commission leases for 2012 are $ -0-.  This represents a zero % increase/decrease over the previous year.

IV.     The total property taxes extended or abated for 2011 were $3,340,000.

          The estimated total property taxes to be levied for 2012 are $3,880,000. 

This represents a 16.16% increase over the previous year.         


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

One Down, Three Cooling

The news is not good. One of the HVAC roof top units (RTU's) is no longer functioning. With a price tag of about $5,000 to fix and the HVAC Replacement Project specifications and bid package slated to go before the Board of Trustees tomorrow night, the Library will limp along with three functional units. The age of the RTU that is down is a factor in the cost of the repair, making replacement parts expensive and difficult to find.

Please be aware that this will only exacerbate the problem of hot and cold spots in the Library, as the remaining RTU's struggle to keep the temperatures down in the building. Because our antiquated control system does not allow for granular control of air handling, the options for dealing with this problem are limited.

Wear layers and bear with us as the Library addresses its aging infrastructure issues.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Too Hot or Too Cold, Never Just Right

The Library is again experiencing a problem with the HVAC. One of the roof top units (RTU's), the one that cools the Large Meeting Room, Storytime Room and Outreach Office, is not working. It's pretty warm down there!

Due to the HVAC control issues, since the summer heat wave ended, it has been too cold in the Library more often than too warm. The control system does not allow for finite or area specific adjustments.

Needless to say, it's impossible to keep a comfortable temperature in the Library as the systems are failing. Thankfully, the replacement of the HVAC system is on the Board's agenda for Wednesday, August 29.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Nine Reasons to Save Public Libraries

I just have to share Emmily Bristol's take on today's public libraries and why they matter:
Nine Reasons to Save Public Libraries

Here in Plainfield, we wish we had enough space to do #8 effectively, but the others are all applicable to your Library. Over 4,000 participated in Summer Reading this year alone and 1,00 attended the Grand Finale event. Your Library is so much more than books on a shelf.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Public Library Construction Grant Denied as Library Infrastructure Issues Continue

The Plainfield Public Library District received official notification that its application for an Illinois Public Library Construction Grant was denied. The grant program offered $50 million in funding for libraries across the state. Applications from Illinois public libraries exceeded $112 million in total requests. With grant scores based primarily on building age and date of last major renovation, the main library’s 1991 construction and 1996 addition placed it in the middle range for these grant scoring elements.
In the meantime, the historic heat wave gripping the area exacerbated the Library’s ongoing issues with its HVAC system. Repeated failures have plagued the system since major components passed their 15-20 year life expectancy, from roof top units to the antiquated, DOS-based controls. In recent years, annual repair costs have ballooned to tens of thousands to keep the system functioning. A building evaluation completed by KJWW Engineering in February place capital needs for the buildings infrastructure at over $400,000 for the most immediate replacements needed: HVAC system, shingled roof and windows in the Bay Window area.
When the library was expanded in the early 1990s, the operating rate referendum to properly fund the operations and maintenance of the building failed. Drastic cuts to operating hours were made in 1993, reducing hours open to 48 per week. Due to the housing boom that began at about that time, the Library was able to reinstate operating hours to 64 per week and 68 during the school year with the addition of Sunday operating hours during the school year to meet demand. In 1997, the Library was able to implement a small fee to developers annexing and subdividing property in the district through an intergovernmental agreement with the Village of Plainfield. Collection of these fees allowed the Library make internal changes to the building necessary to serve the growing community, such as removing built-in service desks, adding shelving and replacing carpet. As the collection of those fees dwindled with the housing bust, external sources of funding for capital replacement needs, such as the Illinois Public Library Construction Grant were pursued. A 2009 State of Illinois Capital Bill Grant from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, through Rep. Tom Cross, was funded to reimburse the Library for its 2010 purchase of the parking lot on Route 59. Those funds have not yet been released by the State of Illinois.
The escalating issues with the HVAC system made its replacement the top priority for the Library Board of Trustee this fiscal year. Currently, KJWW Engineering is creating the specifications and bid package for the HVAC replacement project. The anticipated timeline places posting of the bid notice in August, bid opening and contract award in September and project construction in late October to early November. Project construction will be dependent on factors such as lead time for obtaining replacement roof top units and weather. The Library will be closed at time during the construction phase. Residents are encouraged to check our web site, Facebook or call ahead when planning to visit the Library this fall. Replacement of the shingled roof and windows in the Bay Window Area are also slated for fall 2012.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Congratulations, White Oak Library District on their New Romeoville Library

If you haven't seen the newly renovated Romeoville branch of the White Oak Library District, you should!

Thanks to the Romeoville Patch, you can take a photo tour here.

The 46,000 sq ft library had its ribbon cutting ceremony last week. For anyone who had visited this library previously, be prepared to be amazed at the difference!

Our neighbors in the White Oak Library District approved a $23 million building bond referendum in  February 2010 to purchase and renovate the Romeoville library building, renovate and add a 5,000 sq ft to the Lockport library building and build a new library in Crest Hill. Congratulations to all who are working hard to improve the White Oak Library District's facilities!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Top Ten Reasons for the Whole Family to Register for Summer Reading!

  1. Excitement! Summer Reading can be an exciting time for kids to learn about something new that interests them - and their excitement is contagious.
  2. New Books! Whether its a bestselling author's latest or a debut novel, all the print summer blockbusters have arrived.
  3. Motivation! Setting reading goals for the summer will motivate the whole family to read.
  4. Friends! Connect with friends at Summer Reading special events like Family Bingo.
  5. Maintain Your Brain! Reading is exercise for the mind, keeping your skills sharp all summer long.
  6. Learning! Whatever your interests, you can learn more through reading. Kids especially won't even realize how much they are learning.
  7. Connecting! Pick a book or topic and have your own family book discussion to keep that dinner table conversation flowing.
  8. Sharing! Check out your favorite book from when you were a kid or pick up your child's new favorite to share each other's interests.
  9. Encouragement! When the whole family participates, you can encourage each other to reach your goals.
  10. Ice Cream! "Reading is So Delicious" this summer, culminating in the Grand Finale with ice cream sundaes for all!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Apologies for Registration Snafu

Our sincerest apologies for any trouble you may have experienced yesterday when attempting to register for Summer Reading or a special event. Evanced, the vendor that provides our hosted software for Summer Reading and events registration, did not notify its customers that a server upgrade would be done during business hours. This caused a service outage and extreme slowness in response time for the software throughout the day Monday. Occurring on the first day of Summer Reading registration and the first day to register for summer special events, this could not have come at a worse time for our community, on the Library's busiest day of the year.

The library staff has expressed our deep dissatisfaction with this vendor's service and shared with them the negative feedback the library received from the community due to this service interruption. The vendor posted this apology on their blog:

"We are continuing to work with our hosting provider to fix the speed issues experienced by our hosted customers.  Our hosting provider is working to install a load balancer today which we hope will be working by the morning of Tuesday, June 5.

We understand that the speed issue is an inconvenience to your staff and your community and we sincerely apologize.  We will continue to update the blog with additional information as it becomes available.

Thank you,
Evanced Solutions Support Team"