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Residents Torn Over Library Tax Hike

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Residents Torn Over Library Tax Hike

The mayor of Chicago wants to raise property taxes to help fund the libraries. The $108 million hike would pay for operations and new buildings. Residents in a Far South Side neighborhood had mostly negative reactions to that proposed tax hike.

The Pullman library is a 1927 brick building with ornate terra cotta details. It sits in the middle of a quiet residential street. Inside, there’s a soaring atrium over the circulation desk, and archways with lavish trim. Marsha Noble, who works in the area, has started coming here instead of her local branch. NOBLE: I like the way it’s situated in the neighborhood. It’s right in the heart of the neighborhood. I like the fact that it is very, very clean. And I like the fact it has what you need.

But 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale is concerned that both libraries in his district are at least 60 years old. And the Pullman is tucked away on a side street, so it’s hard to find. He wants a new library. But some of his residents are not convinced. Neither is frequent library user Ralph Douglas.

DOUGLAS: It really doesn’t make any difference to me, there’s nothing wrong with the old building. And it’s built better than these new buildings. It’s 80 years old, standing like a rock.

HUGGINS: The branch is nice, like it is, but I would like to see more books, it could be a little more space.

Roseland resident Denise Huggins speaks for several other library users who say they want new books and more computers, but not if it means higher property taxes. Now Art Galloway would normally agree with them—he opposes tax hikes in general.

GALLOWAY: We gonna pick up the tag anyway. So if it’s for something worthwhile, like a library branch, or an extension of the library, I’m all for it.

He says officials want to increase taxes across the city and county, and at least the library gives kids a place to go, and helps people become computer literate.

I’m Lynette Kalsnes, Chicago Public Radio.

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