LOOGOOTEE – Should Economic Development Income Tax revenue be used to pay for the new Loogootee library now being built?
Monday night, library board member Susan Harrawood asked the Loogootee City Council for $150,000 in EDIT funds for the library. She said it would promote economic development, since the local workforce development office will be located in the new library. She also said the new building is definitely a capital asset which will last a long time.
However, former mayor Brian Ader disagreed, saying, “I don't think EDIT funds should be used in that manner. I didn't say the library wasn't important.”
Ader admitted he was not a supporter of the new library from the beginning. He said the library board sold the project to the public with the promise that it would not cost taxpayers any money.
The library board members said they were seeking a commitment from the council for the money, but expected it to be spread out over several years.
Construction of the new library is being financed by a federal grant. By going this route, instead of selling bonds, library director Darla Wagler said it saved taxpayers $1 million.
Harrawood said the library board members had promised construction of the new library would not increase taxes, which she said had happened. She also said any city funds would free up money for the library to expand services.
Councilwoman Ruth Smith said she was “never a big fan of the new library.” However, she has slowly changed her mind over time, saying the council needs to help those who are here. “We need a place for children to go that's not on the street.”
Wagler said more than just books, the library offers numerous social programs for different ages. With a larger facility, more programs can be offered.
Construction on the new library is scheduled to end by late November, said Wagler, with the opening set for some time before the end of the year.
Mayor Noel Harty said the city currently has $340,000 in EDIT funds, with about $80,000 added each year. He said $30,000 is committed annually to pay for the new city pool.
Harty said the city has applied for $1 million in Community Connections funds, which would require the city pay an estimated $115,000 for engineering costs from EDIT.
Wagler said the library receives $147,000 annually in property tax revenue, as well as $80,000 from Local Option Income Tax revenue.
The city council took no action on the library board request. Harty said all department heads had submitted their budget requests for 2020. Clerk-Treasurer Carol Harder is scheduled to meet with a representative from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance later this month. In September, the city council will begin considering the 2020 proposed budget.
In other business, the council agreed to pay $11,500 to Layne, a water resources company from Woodlands, Texas, to complete a new wellhead delineation plan for the city. Public Works Superintendent Bo Wilson said the new plan was needed because Daviess County Rural Water is about to begin receiving water from Loogootee, which will double the city's daily output. He said the company has completed installation of a 12-inch water main and has filled its water tower.
The council also agreed to hire a sixth police officer, who will work part-time for the rest of the year. Police Chief Kelly Rayhill said this officer would become full-time next year, after veteran officer Rick Norris retires this fall. Norris was elected to serve on the city council next year during May's primary election.