News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

December 12, 2008

Vigo County Library looking at closing branches, other measures to make up large budget shortfall

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County Public Library will have to cut at least $500,000 in expenses next year as it attempts to bring its budget in line with less property tax revenue.

The library board “is considering all options right now,” said Nancy Dowell, library director.

Those options could include possible elimination of branch libraries; staff reductions; a reduction of library hours; reduction or elimination of services; and implementation of new fines and fees, sometimes called “revenue enhancement.”

No decisions have been made, and the board will conduct two hearings in January to receive public input, Dowell said.

The first hearing will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 21, and the second will be from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Jan. 22. Both will be at the main library.

“The board didn’t want to make any kinds of decisions until they heard from the public,” Dowell said Thursday.

Similar to other units of local government, the public library is being affected by House Bill 1001 and circuit-breaker property tax caps.

The library commissioned Umbaugh and Associates to study projected revenue losses and anticipated budget shortfalls. “It’s not a pretty picture,” Dowell said.

Budget shortfalls are projected at $420,139 for 2009; $539,915 for 2010; $465,061 for 2011 and $385,534 for 2012.

Umbaugh recommends “we take the hit right away” in 2009 and make $539,915 in permanent cuts, Dowell said. “They recommend we reduce our budget by that amount in 2009.”

Another concern is whether there will be a budget shortfall at the end of this year carrying over into 2009, which will only compound problems. “We don’t know what the cash balance will be going into 2009,” Dowell said. “We need to know that.”

It will depend on the property tax settlement from the county, expected before the end of the year. Right now, “We have no concept of whether there will be a shortfall for 2008,” she said.

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    March 12, 2010