Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Library merger bill clears committee

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A bill that could lead to the consolidation of township and county library systems passed a Senate committee 7-1 on Wednesday with amendments.

S.B. 348 would require each county to form a committee to prepare a plan for library services in their county. The plan would have to propose one of several models, including a consolidated countywide system.

Westchester Public Library officials are concerned that the bill could ultimately lead to an end to the township library, especially because of a provision that would allow the state library to approve of each county’s library service plan.

The Senate Committee on Local Government passed a 16-page committee report containing amendments. One amendment addresses what would happen if a library committee determines that a library services model other than consolidation should be used. In such a case, the committee would have to include in its plan specific findings to explain why the chosen model is preferable and why that particular model would result in better library services than a consolidated system.

Another amendment appears targeted to those counties in Indiana where library services are lacking. A committee would need to consider having a public library enter into an interlocal agreement with at least one school corporation in the county into order to better serve the underserved areas, under the amendment.

Another amendment deals with the use of County Economic Development Income Tax to replace the property tax levies of library systems.

WPL Director Phil Baugher said this morning that he has not yet had time  to fully study the amendments, but that WPL will track the bill closely this session.

Although the bill passed the committee, it was reassigned to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The one state senator who voted against the bill in committee was also the only Democrat who voted: Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago. Similar to Porter County, which has WPL and the county library system, Lake County also has several independent library systems that could face consolidation with the county system under the bill.

The senators who voted in favor of the bill were Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake, and fellow Republicans Phil Boots, James Buck, Beverly Gard, Travis Holdman, Michael Young, and Connie Lawson. 


Posted 1/29/2009




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