News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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September 4, 2013

No public at special hearing to check out library budget

TERRE HAUTE — The public had no questions Tuesday evening at a special hearing on the Vigo County Public Library’s 2014 budget.

The public was invited to review the library’s pending budget of approximately $7 million at a special meeting of the library board. However, no members of the public attended the hearing, and the board adjourned without discussion.

The library’s 2014 budget, expected to be about $7.1 million, next goes to the Vigo County Council for a non-binding review next Tuesday.

The board is expected to vote on the budget at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 16 in a downstairs library meeting room.

About $5.4 million of the library’s overall budget is expected to come from property taxes, said Kristi Howe, library director. The remainder will come from miscellaneous revenue sources, such as other taxes and library fees, she said.

While the library is seeking $5.4 million in property tax revenue, it will likely receive significantly less, largely because of the state’s property tax caps, Howe said.

For fiscal year 2013, the library received several hundred thousand dollars less from the state than requested, she noted. The same is likely to happen this year.

The library’s 2014 budget would represent an increase of 2.6 percent compared with 2013. That is the maximum increase allowed under the state’s “maximum levy growth quotient,” Howe noted.

Each year, the state determines how much local governments can seek in additional revenue. That figure, known as a the “growth quotient,” is based on the average rate of growth in the state’s total nonfarm personal income over a six-year period. In 2013, the growth quotient was 2.8 percent.

Last month, library board members asked the director to provide a list of major projects still awaiting approval. Board members stated they hoped to prioritize the list, which is expected to include roof repairs, remodeling of the library and other potential expenses.

“The board is being very thorough,” Howe said after the special hearing. The board made tough decisions a few years ago to close some library branches, she said. “They feel a great responsibility not to squander that,” Howe said.

The library, which employs about 83 people, spends approximately 63 percent of its budget on personnel-related items, such as salaries, benefits and payroll taxes, Howe said.

Demand for the library’s electronic resources, such as eBooks, continues to rise dramatically, Howe said after the meeting. As of July, circulation figures for electronic items that users download to MP3 players or Kindles, for example, were up 35 percent compared with the year before, Howe said. Circulation of “tangible” library items, such as print books, DVDs and CDs, were up just 2 percent compared with 2012, she said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com

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