HAMMOND | The Hammond City Council has set a public hearing for June 10 on funding for the Hammond Public Library.
The City Council gave initial approval to the $526,041 in appropriations at Monday's meeting, but a public hearing is required before a final vote can take place, City Councilman Anthony Higgs, D-3rd, said.
“If we had had the meeting two weeks ago, we would be further along in this issue,” said Higgs referring to the council meeting scheduled for April 22 that was canceled due to a lack of quorum.
The library is returning to the City Council for approval to use $526,041 of its funds, most coming from its “rainy day fund,” to pay for necessary maintenance items.
Higgs had told The Times he had hoped to take a final vote on relinquishing the money to the library on Monday but explained to the crowd in council chambers that the public hearing is a procedure required for the ordinances.
The June vote will be the culmination of months of financial talks between the library and council members.
The City Council denied the library's original budget request for 2013 in September. City officials were concerned then how the library's budget proposal, which included an $800,000 budget increase, would potentially impact city finances because of Indiana's property tax caps.
However, McDermott explained to council members in April that the library resubmitting a request from its “rainy day fund” would separate the issue from any ramifications of the tax caps.
“It seems to me a lot of people believe it's a contentious issue,” McDermott said. “I don't believe this particular issue with the appropriation from the rainy day fund is a contentious issue.”
The denial meant the library reverted back to its 2012 budget. Paul Taylor, president of the Library Board, has said the budget provides enough money for the library to operate but not for necessary maintenance upgrades. The library will use the money to repair the broken air conditioning system, upgrade computers and replace carpet and tile.
In addition to the rainy day funds, another $2,000 is from its lease rental fund.