Elkhart library patrons will be the latest to feel the effects of state property tax caps.
The library board last week decided to cut the hours at the main library and all of its branches to help make up for a $600,000 gap in revenue this year.
Beginning Oct. 2,the Cleveland, Dunlap, Osolo and Pierre Moran branches will be closed on Sunday. The main, downtown branch already is closed, which means the entire system will be closed on Sunday.
In addition, branches will close at 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and will be open only until 1 p.m. on Saturdays instead of 6 p.m. They will remain open until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The main library will close three hours early - at 6 p.m. - on Tuesdays and Thursdays and five hours early - at 1 p.m. - on Saturday. The main branch will close at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.
The hours were determined based on patron use, according to library officials.
Bookmobiles - which visited neighborhoods, apartment complexes, nursery schools and retirement centers - also are being taken out of circulation. One will be sold and another will be used in parades or special events.
Open positions also will not be filled to help save costs.
The changes definitely affect students who need to use the library for research and those folks who have relied on the library branches to file for unemployment, particularly on Sundays. The number of weekend and night hours will be limited across the library system, making access more difficult.
Local governments, including the library board, have their backs against the wall when it comes to figuring out how to balance declining revenues and continuing to provide adequate service to the taxpayers.
The city of Elkhart has decided to shift some of its traditional general fund expenses to income tax revenues and ratepayers.
The county is looking at how to streamline its ordinances to cut back on staffing.
In this case, the library board has decided to service will take the hit by cutting down on hours and eliminating the bookmobiles.
Local government financing is about choices. And some of those choices are being made now. It's important for taxpayers and patrons to get involved to let your elected and appointed officials know if they are making the right choices.