Dysmey Blog Archives > Fund Delay to Local Library

Fund Delay to Local Library

The local library will likely go into suspended animation for the next six months. The assessment bungling in Madison County, whose northern fifth is in the same school district as Fairmount, is keeping the library from getting its tax allotment. That hurts the budget; and in order to meet basics we will have to into internal funds. It is worse for the town citizens. They don't pay property taxes (unless, like me, they choose to) until the end of the year, at which point they will get a double smack.

I (and the other library board members) signed off on the following letter, that was published in the Fairmount and Marion papers:

As director of the Fairmount Public Library, I wanted to explain our current financial situation to the community.

A library is funded by property taxes, excise taxes for passenger and commercial vehicles and a financial institution tax.

We receive a portion of these taxes for our area, as do other libraries, schools and governmental entities in the county.

During the property tax reassessment process, all of us were hit hard with the tax check delays.

We were able to ask for cash advances along the way, and we were able to borrow internally from other funds we had.

Now, in 2007, the Madison-Grant and Oak Hill school districts are being hit again with tax delays due to crossing county lines with Madison and Miami counties.

Because of this delay, property tax bills have not been processed and may not be processed in these areas until the end of the year.

Without payments being made, it is quite possible that advance tax draws may be nonexistent.

As a result, the Fairmount Public Library has already borrowed from one of its funds.

There may be a chance that we might have to borrow from our other reserve fund.

If this happens, and we do not receive any property tax payment this year, we may not be able to continue purchasing any new book titles or DVDs.

We will option into paying the basics: utilities, phone and professional services and salaries.

I would like to make the community aware that we will try our very best to offer you as much library services as we can through this period.

Community members interested in helping us bridge this gap are invited to donate to our gift fund and designate the funds toward books, DVDs or miscellaneous.

Large donations will automatically be given a tax donation slip upon request.

Thank you for your understanding.

How did it get this bad?

Restrictions on property taxes made in the early 1970's were dodged by the creation of special tax districts and spheres like school, library, park and the like. The old tax régime made this okay for a while. Then the state branch of the ACLU sued over the tax régime's unfairness and won in federal court. That forced a reassessment of home and business property throughout Indiana, which the General Assembly delayed until the very last minute. The reassessments caused taxes to go up for everyone — by many times in some counties like Marion (Indianapolis) and Delaware (Muncie), whose citizens are screaming bloody murder.

The library suffered during the reassessment because the county assessor at the time did not do his job right and blamed his software for the delays. That is fixed now (mostly by getting rid of the assessor). Our problem now is the school district and the part that lies in a county that is having assessment problems itself.

There is talk about getting rid of property taxes; just how is the library going to get its funds if that happens?

Another idea is to combine tax districts like school and library. You know, we now have a library board that is willing to improve the library without the over-stinginess of past boards. And we have been good at keeping the budget straight, even rejecting accounting reports that seemed not to have been done right. What makes you think Fairmount will be served by merging the library district with a school district whose board is responsible for an aggrandized building project that has raised property taxes for the school district?

I do not see any answers for this, except to find some way to split the school tax district between the counties, so that a delay in one county will not hurt the other.

Posted on the Dysmey Blog on 4 September 2007.