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Library board saves branches, seeks long-term fix

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The Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library board of trustees agreed Thursday to keep open two library branches targeted for closure next year.

Board members also outlined $2.5 million in proposed budget cuts for 2011 to help stem the growing gap between revenue and expenses.

The library system says it faces a revenue drop of more than $4 million per year due to property-tax reductions and lower total tax levies. It projected a $2 million deficit each year without some changes.

The board has been working since April to find solutions. It considered several options to reduce the deficit, including closing the Brightwood and Glendale branches next year and as many as four others in 2012.

Board President Thomas Shevlot acknowledged that the proposed cuts—which still must be approved by the board during its budgeting process next month—won’t resolve the situation long-term.

“It’s a Band-Aid approach,” he said. “We’ve been looking for any way possible to keep these branches from closing, to give us a little more breathing room. … We know these [cuts] will not sustain us well into the 21st Century.”

Among the proposed savings: $1 million in reduced spending on books and materials, $440,000 from eliminating 10 full-time positions and 11 part-time jobs, $311,000 from closing on Sundays from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and $440,000 from requiring employees to pay a portion of their retirement contributions.

Shevlot said the board still is evaluating long-term options, and he has had conversations with public officials about other ways to boost revenue. A referendum could ask voters to approve funding to buy library branches the system now leases, for example, or the City-County Council could opt to increase the library’s tax levy, which has been capped since 2005.

“There are a number of different things being looked at,” he said. “We’re going to spend the next few months digging into the options.”

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  1. Aaron is my fav!

  2. Let's see... $25M construction cost, they get $7.5M back from federal taxpayers, they're exempt from business property tax and use tax so that's about $2.5M PER YEAR they don't have to pay, permitting fees are cut in half for such projects, IPL will give them $4K under an incentive program, and under IPL's VFIT they'll be selling the power to IPL at 20 cents / kwh, nearly triple what a gas plant gets, about $6M / year for the 150-acre combined farms, and all of which is passed on to IPL customers. No jobs will be created either other than an handful of installers for a few weeks. Now here's the fun part...the panels (from CHINA) only cost about $5M on Alibaba, so where's the rest of the $25M going? Are they marking up the price to drive up the federal rebate? Indy Airport Solar Partners II LLC is owned by local firms Johnson-Melloh Solutions and Telemon Corp. They'll gross $6M / year in triple-rate power revenue, get another $12M next year from taxpayers for this new farm, on top of the $12M they got from taxpayers this year for the first farm, and have only laid out about $10-12M in materials plus installation labor for both farms combined, and $500K / year in annual land lease for both farms (est.). Over 15 years, that's over $70M net profit on a $12M investment, all from our wallets. What a boondoggle. It's time to wise up and give Thorium Energy your serious consideration. See http://energyfromthorium.com to learn more.

  3. Markus, I don't think a $2 Billion dollar surplus qualifies as saying we are out of money. Privatization does work. The government should only do what private industry can't or won't. What is proven is that any time the government tries to do something it costs more, comes in late and usually is lower quality.

  4. Some of the licenses that were added during Daniels' administration, such as requiring waiter/waitresses to be licensed to serve alcohol, are simply a way to generate revenue. At $35/server every 3 years, the state is generating millions of dollars on the backs of people who really need/want to work.

  5. I always giggle when I read comments from people complaining that a market is "too saturated" with one thing or another. What does that even mean? If someone is able to open and sustain a new business, whether you think there is room enough for them or not, more power to them. Personally, I love visiting as many of the new local breweries as possible. You do realize that most of these establishments include a dining component and therefore are pretty similar to restaurants, right? When was the last time I heard someone say "You know, I think we have too many locally owned restaurants"? Um, never...

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