Chesterton Tribune



Westchester Library continues aggressive investments, awaits tax cut decision from Assembly

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Westchester Public Library director Phil Baugher reported Thursday that even though state officials had warned the library’s 2013 tax collections would be $165,000 less due to circuit-breaker restrictions, the actual loss was only $74,992.

That news, however, was coupled with the new estimate that WPL stands to lose $291,360 if the state’s personal property tax for business is eliminated. Such a move, now being proposed in a modified form, is winding through the halls of the current Indiana General Assembly.

Baugher told the WPL Library Board that since WPL ended 2013 in better financial shape than anticipated, he recommended and the board approved moving $294,607 to the rainy day fund; the director said next month he will seek approval to move $250,000 of that into the investment fund.

Last year the Library Board spent several meetings and many hours hashing out a new investment policy for WPL, which has no debt but a future addition to Thomas Library has been discussed. Smarter investing now could help generate cash faster, it’s hoped.

WPL currently has $8.1 million in all accounts with $6.75 million of that in newly structured staggered investments of longer terms to maximize return. Meeting as a Board of Finance last night, Library Board members readopted their investment policy for 2014 with more amendments.

Nick Tilden was elected Finance Board president and Michele Corazzo as secretary.

It was announced the term of Claire Jolie is expiring on the Library Board and she is not seeking reappointment. Candidates to replace her will be interviewed next month. Selection is up to the Porter County Board of Commissioners.

As required the Library Board readopted several existing policies to guide 2014 operations, and members approved issuing free WPL cards to staff members who are not residents of the Westchester Township library district.

Provided to the Library Board by curator Serena Sutliff was the 2013 annual report for the WPL-operated Westchester Township History Museum. Visitors rose from 4,240 in 2012 to 4,624 last year. Sales in the museum gift shop also increased to $4,658.

Many of the public programs, tours and outreach programs to schools, civic groups and seniors were well received, according to Sutliff’s report, and her staff responded to 1,100 inquiries regarding questions on local history and genealogy research. Eighty-one artifacts were donated to the museum as well.

The exhibit areas in the museum, housed in the historic Brown Mansion leased from Duneland School Corp., are being updated and remodeled. Baugher said the work is nearing completion and he plans a grand reopening with invited guests in the spring.

The director noted with sadness the recent passing of former library volunteer and employee Bob Block, the husband of former WPL head of technical services Darla Block.

The next Library Board meeting will be Feb. 13 at Hageman Library in Porter. This year is the 100th anniversary of the first Porter library in the original town hall. Hageman subsequently was built across the street.


Posted 1/10/2014