Proposal could cut revenue for St. Joseph County Library

NOW: Proposal could cut revenue for St. Joseph County Library

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. – A proposed shift in how local income tax revenue is shared would cut $500,000 from the St Joseph County Public Library in 2020 and every year after that.

Resolution R7-19 would move millions of dollars in local income taxes to a different tax rate to fund the 911 dispatch center.

Now, the library is calling on people to contact city and county councilmembers to avoid major cuts.

 “We need the community in a way that we have not needed them in the past,” said library spokesperson Jennifer Henecke.

 “For public libraries especially we have very limited revenue streams, so we receive the bulk of our operating budget from local government taxes, which is why this is such a serious issue,” she said.

Every public library in the community would lose some funding if the proposal passes.

The plan would impact the libraries operating budget which keeps the doors open, lights on, staff behind the desks, and materials on the shelves.

“The impact of losing half a million dollars on our operating budget would be serious and ongoing, and it would be equivalent to having to close a library branch.”

“It would just be a hole in the community,” said Erin Donaldson, a library assistant at Center Library on Kern Road in South Bend.

St. Joseph County Library has 10 locations throughout the community.

“The neighborhood branches are such an important part of the social fabric of each of those neighborhoods,” said Henecke.

“Having something close and in the neighborhood is just a goldmine of resources and information and programs to those communities,” Donaldson said.

Officials say libraries are safe and vital to everyone in the community, especially kids and jobseekers.

“It would take a whole neighborhood branch out, and that’s tons and tons of kids that wouldn’t get services, tons of adults and seniors that wouldn’t have a place to go during the day,” Donaldson explained.

Library leaders say they haven’t been kept up to date on the proposal and want the County Council, South Bend Common Council, and Mishawaka Common Council to hear from the public.

“The impact that it has had on your life, in your family’s life, on your community. Because, libraries are important, they’re essential. Neighborhoods need their libraries,” Henecke said.

ABC57 has reached out to all three councils, including Mayor Pete Buttigieg, to learn more details about the proposal, but hasn’t received a response yet.  

The County Council meets on September 10th for a public meeting and the library is asking you attend and voice your support.

You can learn more about the proposal from the library here.

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