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Threat to local libraries explained

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Voice of the People

Many library patrons have approached the library board lately with questions regarding the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform - a commission intended to provide Gov. Daniels with recommendations for a leaner, local government structure. Our library has been very concerned with reported discussions by the Commission regarding the possible mandated consolidation of some units of government, specifically libraries, the assumption being that the consolidation or merging of libraries might significantly reduce property taxes.

The library and other local units of government recognize that large, recent increases in property taxes for individual homeowners have largely been caused by the elimination of the inventory tax on business, changes in the manner in which property is assessed, and some other factors; but not large increases in local government spending.

Indiana’s public libraries only collect an average of 3.33 percent of property tax collections and it is doubtful that merging library districts will result in great savings.

If library districts are merged, however, some library boards will be eliminated and the fiscal oversight provided by these many unpaid volunteer trustees will be diminished as library districts become larger.

We believe decisions about our libraries should be made in our community by residents of our library district, and not by persons on a larger library board, none of whom may reside in our community.

We also believe our community knows our library is an asset of considerable “value” to our community and our sense of identity.

The programs and services a library provides should reflect the needs of the community it serves and we believe we have fulfilled your needs.

It wasn’t long ago that our community and our library faced a financial crisis due to the bankruptcy of our largest taxpayer.

Our library responded by drastically reducing expenditures and many volunteers in our community assisted us through the crisis by helping maintain our day to day programs and services.

Now we are faced with another challenge: the challenge to remain independent from a larger unit of government and we need your help.

The Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform

 will conduct a public forum on Monday, Oct. 8 from 7-9 p.m. at the Savannah Center Gymnasium at Indiana University Northwest.

Pre-registration is required and can be done by sending an e-mail to the Commission at

Interested patrons can also forward their comments about this issue to the Commission by using the same address. Later in the year, depending on the recommendations drafted by the Commission, we may be asking you to contact our State Legislators to make your feelings about your library known.

We are proud of the accomplishments of our library and hope you share our belief that a healthy and independent library system is work preserving.


Board of Trustees of the Westchester Public Library

Karen Nash, President

J. Erik Hokanson, Vice President

Sharon Robbins, Secretary

Vernon Odom, Jr., Treasurer

John Corso

Neal Mortensen

Claire Jolie


Posted 10/4/2007




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