KPL prepares for new state library budget law

Kendallville Public Library Director Katie Mullins presents to the library board Tuesday.

KENDALLVILLE — A new law passed in this year’s state legislative session could add more red tape to libraries approving their budgets. But at this point, Kendallville Public Library is joining others in understanding what the law needs it to do.

At the Kendallville Public Library’s board meeting Tuesday, board members touched on the bill, HB 1343, which Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law last month.

Under the bill, fiscal bodies, like the Noble County Council, could make public libraries submit proposed budgets to them for approval. However, this could only happen if the library’s cash on hand plus expected revenues is more than 150 percent of its proposed budget.

Right now, the law only requires approval if the library’s budget is “increasing faster than the assessed value growth quotient,” according to a document from the Indiana Library Federation.

If the fiscal body were to cut the library’s proposed budget under the new law, it couldn’t go over “by more than 10% of the public library’s operating levy,” the bill reads.

Currently, the Noble County Council conducts a non-binding review annually of other taxing units in the county like townships and libraries, but has no authority to make any changes to those budgets.

At this stage in the game, Kendallville Public Library Director Katie Mullins said there’s a lot to be hashed out.

Talks about this new law have only just begun in library communities, including her own, she said. For KPL, the budgets run from January to December, and Mullins begins setting the next year in July.

“I’ll start working on our budget now for the process to start in August,” Mullins said.

It’s not easy to pinpoint exactly how the new law will affect KPL, especially since entities like the Department of Local Government Finance haven’t spoken on it.

“Since the DLGF hasn’t done their interpretation of it yet, I think it’s hard for us to calculate that,” Mullins said.

The ILF looks to be among the first organizations to break down what this law might mean for libraries in an upcoming webinar July 1.

“We should get more information at that time,” Mullins said.

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