WASHINGTON — Whether or not Washington Township residents will have free access to Carnegie Public Library in 2012 was the topic of a lively discussion in Thursday’s Daviess County Council budget hearings.
Council members — in the state-mandated scrutinization of all local budgets — questioned Washington Township Trustee Albert “Pete” Showalter about the $10,000 raised in 2011 through taxes for library services that was never paid out. The Washington Township Board, comprised of Nancy Singleton, Glenn Newton and John Horton, did not sign this year’s contract with the local library, which asked for a reimbursement of $10,500.
Showalter maintains that in the past the township was given a blank contract to fill in the amount it could give to the library, but was given a $10,500 contract for 2011. Township board members didn’t think Washington Township could afford the $500 increase in the contract, he said.
In the meantime, State Board of Accounts officials have told Showalter that the money needs to be moved from the Library Fund into a Rainy Day Fund. Showalter indicated at least part of this year’s $10,000 will be needed for poor relief, as his office has seen an increase in requests from residents who can’t pay their rent or utilities.
County Auditor Gail Doades, who said she was speaking as a Washington Township resident, not as a county officeholder, said she thought county residents were being “taxed” twice if they wanted to use the library. As residents outside the city limits but in the township, they are now charged $42 for a library card because the library doesn’t receive any of the tax monies collected from the township.
Showalter said the township had offered to reimburse residents for their cards.
Doades showed council members a letter from head librarian Teresa Heidenreich, written to Showalter, asking the trustee to meet with her by July 13 to hammer out an agreement for Washington Township for next budget year. Council members were frustrated there had been no resolve to the impasse over $500.
The council, which on Thursday was examining budgets from all the county’s entities, asked Showalter to come back to its meeting on Sept. 1 after he negotiates with library officials. If no agreement can be reached, council members feel the $10,000 line item in the 2012 township budget for library expenses should be deleted.
Council president Ken Solliday said, “We can’t keep taxing them to use the library and then not be able to use it.”