Montgomery County Commissioner Phil Bane set the tone at Monday’s commissioner meeting regarding the expansion of services from the Crawfordsville District Public Library to Ripley, Coal Creek and Wayne townships. Bane does not believe it is a commissioners’ decision, but rather a township issue.
The CDPL board of directors approached commissioners two weeks ago asking them to sign a proposal to add the three townships to the district. The proposal would have caused an increase in property taxes in the three townships, which was a red flag to Bane.
In a prepared statement, Bane told library board members he would not vote in favor of the expansion based on the information he had gathered from citizens from the three affected townships.
“We tabled our decision on the library expansion at the last meeting so we could get input from the three township trustees and citizens. The information I received is overwhelmingly against the proposal. Although I am not against 100 percent of the citizens of Montgomery County having library access, I believe this to be a township issue and not a county commissioner issue.”
Commissioners Jim Fulwider and Terry Hockersmith agreed with Bane. Both commissioners stated the citizens they talked with were not in favor of the proposal.
“The feedback I was given is we don’t need this,” Hockersmith said “It would be a tax increase and I cannot go along with the expansion.”
Ripley Township presently has a program that reimburses any township resident the cost of obtaining a personal library card from the CDPL. Fulwider said he thought the Ripley Township policy was better than adding to landowner taxes.
“Ripley Township Trustee Jim Spence has a sufficient reimbursement program for his citizens,” Fulwider said. “I had very little feedback that supported the expansion.”
Wayne Township Trustee Jack Edwards and Coal Creek Trustee Roger Kunkle both spoke against the proposal.
After commissioners signed a resolution expressing non-support of the expansion of library services to the three townships, CDPL Director Larry Hathaway thanked commissioners for gathering information. Hathaway said he understood the commissioners’ decision, but he indicated the issue will not go away.
“I understand your decision and appreciate the time you spent to gather information,” Hathaway said. “We estimated the library would collect an additional $160,000 from adding the three townships. We had planned on using the money to increase our children’s programs. This issue will come up again.”