By Michael Romain
THURSDAY, MAYWOOD — I talked with Ms. Rose Mosley, President of the Maywood Library Board of Directors. Several days before our conversation, the Library received $100K in back-taxes, a development I believed might give the Library several months to maneuver. According to Ms. Mosley, I was wrong.
It’s been confirmed that the Library received about $100K from Cook County in taxes it was owed. Won’t that help you all out tremendously? And how did the Library end up receiving it?
Late taxes have been received. Whatever taxes are collected, they’re [sometimes] late getting back to us. And the Village is never in a big hurry to see that we get our taxes, anyway. [Nonetheless], those new tax revenues will only get us through October. We’re still operating at a deficit and [a lot of that money will go toward paying down past due bills]. Our worry is still the same. The situation is still critical. We still have to find a source of revenue.
But not long ago, the Library had asked for $150K from the Village as part of a $500K capital improvement grant from Rep. Welch. Essentially, however, that would take the form of a $150K loan to the Library District from the Village’s general fund, which would then be offset by the grant money. Some Village officials are reluctant to give out a loan, because that grant money from the State has yet to materialize on the Village’s books and they believe that the Village isn’t in the position to lend money that it doesn’t have, or that could be used for much-needed capital purchases. If $100K only gets you through the month, a $150K intergovernmental loan from the Village won’t get you very far, either–in addition to adding to your debt load. So it sounds like there need to be much deeper, structural adjustments made. What kind of structural adjustments need to be made to get the Library back into the black, back to the point of solvency?
[It would be good if the Bank re-considered the conditions of our loan]. Seaway Bank hasn’t been very willing to readjust [the conditions of the loan], perhaps because of the situation that they found themselves in [after the financial and housing crisis of 2008]. But I’m aware that they just recently received a large amount of money to be able to assist in doing stuff in our community. I’m thinking that maybe, with the money they now have, they’ll be able to look at things differently. We’ve always paid and paid on time. We’ve paid them back millions of dollars. I think they were in a position where they need to tighten our loan. Now that they’ve been given that money from the Congressional Black Caucus Fund, perhaps they can rethink our situation.
With respect to the proposed loan extension, has the Village gotten back to you?
If the Library were to close, how long would it stay closed?
At this point in time, that’s something we don’t even want to think about. We don’t know. Once we close those doors […] that’s a chance we don’t want to take. We want to see just what we can get and what’s out there. But I can’t project how long [it would be closed, if it came to that]. Let me stress that the vote that was taken to grant Mr. Huntington the authority to close was only contingent. We will not close those doors unless we have come to the point of absolutely no return. We don’t want to rush and do it. We’re going to keep the Library open until we just can’t anymore. Until it becomes impossible.
What do you say to some residents in the community who think that the Library was too late in telling people about its financial condition? Or that mismanagement, or laxity, had something to do with its present state?
I’ve sat on this Board for 30 years. We have never mismanaged any funds and we have always practiced due diligence with our funding. What happened to us, we couldn’t quite see it coming. We had no way of knowing that Maywood would experience all of these foreclosures and that tax collections would be down by more than 37 percent. We were doing relatively well [before the credit crisis that, according to Ms. Mosley, perhaps forced Seaway to adjust its loan conditions] and were thinking the economy was going to recovery after this period, as in surrounding communities. But in Maywood, that recovery hasn’t happened. And when we started to get into real trouble, we let people know. The people who come to the Library and utilize it regularly have known about our problems for some time.
But our problem is so much deeper than some of the speculations that are going around. We couldn’t have done much to keep all of our neighbors from giving up their homes or selling them at basement prices. We had no way of knowing all these houses would be in foreclosure. The banks foreclosed on these homes and until such time that they begin to pay taxes on all those foreclosed properties, we’re going to be in bad shape. Asking for Stan Huntington’s [the Library’s Executive Director’s] resignation will not resolve anything. The problem will still be here. He won’t leave and take the problem with him. So we need to be trying to figure out how we, collectively as a community, can keep these doors open. Give us some support. Folks should come to the Library and find out how they can help us during these troublesome times.
What other measures has the Library taken to raise funds?
There are citizen groups who have been going out looking for funding. We thank all of the citizens who have given individual donations. We love them for that. We’re still weighing our options and putting out feelers to as many people and institutions that are willing to assist us.
Is there a grand total amount of how much money the Library needs to collect to get itself back into solvency and into the clear again?
When we initially started, we did the projections. It’s kind of hard to say specifically to the penny how much we’d need at this point in time. And I don’t know how much of what we’ve taken in since then have impacted our initial figures. VFP