The Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, contains the largest genealogy collection of any publicly-owned genealogy in the U.S. It is also one of the largest research collections available anywhere, incorporating records from around the world. Thousands of genealogists travel to Fort Wayne every year to take advantage of the resources available in this unique collection. While in the city, these same genealogists obviously spend millions of dollars at local businesses, including hotels, restaurants, and more. The money spent by genealogists are an immense help for local business people.
Now Fort Wayne City Councilman Jason Arp has proposed cutting the budget of the Allen County Public Library to the point that it will no longer be able to sustain itself. Arp recently proposed to eliminate Allen County’s business personal property tax. Arp suggests that Amazon should and could replace libraries, thus saving taxpayers money.
If approved, the Allen County Public Library stands to lose about $3.9 million in annual revenue. That’s equal to the combined operating budget of almost every department at the main branch in downtown Fort Wayne, Library Director Greta Southard said Thursday. That $3.9 million also represents most of what the library spends on new books each year, Southard said. It’s also the annual cost to operate all the library branches throughout the county.
“How do we choose? Cut books, shut down the branches or close the main library,” Southard said. “This community has a long history of being incredibly supportive to our library system. I just can’t believe that crippling the library’s ability to serve the public is the outcome they’re looking for out of this proposal.”
To be sure, Councilman Jason Arp’s proposal has already encountered opposition. Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, New Haven City Councilman and mayoral candidate Steve McMichael and representatives from area school districts, the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority, and Citlilink to oppose Arp’s various budget proposals. A public hearing is scheduled for the July 24 City Council meeting.
You can read more in an article by Dave Gong in the Journal Gazette at http://www.journalgazette.net/news/local/20180720/tax-removal-plan-decried as well as an excellent article by Greta Southard that is a rebuttal to Councilman Arp’s proposal at http://www.journalgazette.net/opinion/columns/20180810/community-resource.
My thanks to newsletter reader Ernest Thode for telling me about this story.