24 August 2005

Throwing the Book at Them

It never amazes me. The Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library is asking for a tax increase to pay for the overrun for the renovation of the Central Branch downtown. Originally to reopen this year, at a cost of $103 million, the library will now be projected to reopen two years behind and $40 million over budget. Kudos to City-Council member Isaac Randolph for questioning the audacity of the Library Board to ask for a tax increase when the current budget proposed by Mayor Peterson has cuts in public safety.

Louis Mahern, the library board president, said that without the tax increase, major cutbacks will occur in the library renovation. He said that either the renovation is suspended or outlying branches are closed. Property tax increases keep the library in business. The annual budget is listed at $44 million, with over 75% coming from property tax monies. Mahern notes that the increase results in an extra $5 on a home with a value of $100,000.

Another solution would be to sell the library to private investors, let them deal with the renovation, thus taking taxpayers off the hook for another white elephant in the name of progress. How about shrinking that line off the budget completely to boot? It's just a thought.

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