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
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
Pre-registration is required and can be done by sending an e-mail to the
Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org
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