News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

February 7, 2009

Economy puts Vigo library branches’ future in jeopardy

Budget cuts necessary to bring budget in line with less property tax revenue

TERRE HAUTE — On Tuesday, Peggy Esau and 5-year-old granddaughter Megan sat side by side as they used computers at the Vigo County Public Library Meadows branch.

Esau, who watches her granddaughter weekdays, lives near the Meadows shopping center and they frequently go to the library there. Her granddaughter likes to check out books, music, games and movies. They also go there for children’s Story Time.

“It’s nice to have these small branches in the different neighborhoods,” Esau said.

But the branches’ future may be in question. On Tuesday, the Vigo County Public Library Board will begin reviewing options as it considers between $500,000 and $750,000 in budget reductions. Its total 2009 operating budget is about $6 million.

Among the options under consideration are closing some, or even all, of the library’s four branches. They are located at Plaza North, Meadows Shopping Center, Southland Plaza and West Terre Haute.

This Tuesday, the seven-member Library Board will conduct a special board meeting at 6 p.m. in the lower level of the main library. Director Nancy Dowell will present several options for the board to discuss, although no action will be taken. There will be no public comment period.

The board will conduct a regular meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 and could begin acting on some cost-reduction measures at that time.

The cuts are necessary to bring the library’s budget in line with less property tax revenue. The library must make a permanent reduction in its expenses. About 90 percent of its revenues come from property taxes.

The budge shortfall has been described as an unintended consequence of House Bill 1001, which changed the state’s property tax system.

To achieve the cost reductions, the board will have to consider some big-ticket items that could include possible branch closings.

In 2008, the four branches cost $1.1 million to operate, a figure that includes rent, utilities, staff salaries and library materials.

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    March 12, 2010