HAMMOND | City officials appear prepared to consider a request from the Hammond Public Library to access funds its administrators argue are at their disposal but can't be used without Hammond City Council support.
Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., in speaking with council members Monday, suggested the city ask the library to submit a request.
McDermott said the library seems to have grouped two issues together when it first came to the city for consideration of its 2013 budget. One issue dealt with the budget and the implications Indiana's property tax caps have on that budget.
“Then there's an issue about a sum of money the library has access to, but they're not allowed to tap into it because we didn't give them approval,” McDermott said.
“The way it has been explained to me, both issues were intertwined with each other during their last presentation to the council — the one where we limited them to the tax caps. Had they broken up those two issues, I think it would have been easier for the council and the mayor to deal with them.”
Hammond Public Library Director Rene Greenleaf told council members in March the library had $1.3 million available in existing cash balances. The library had originally sought an $800,000 budget increase but reverted back to its 2012 budget with the council's denial.
Councilwoman Janet Venecz, D-at large, said if library officials had not lumped the $800,000 increase into their budget and instead requested the amount through an additional appropriation, “they would have had their money back then.”
Paul Taylor, president of the Hammond Public Library board, said the library intends to ask for an additional appropriation, but it must go through the library board for approval.
Taylor said the library is working to determine the amount it will request.
“It would be primarily for maintenance kinds of things,” Taylor said. “The computers need to be upgraded. I believe our chiller has to be replaced.”
The library board likely will talk about requesting the appropriation at its next board meeting scheduled for April 30, Taylor said.
Greenleaf issued a statement Tuesday saying the library was “grateful for the mayor's recommendation.” However, Greenleaf declined an interview request on the matter.