Chester’s financial strength appears to be weakening as one bad news scenario after the other hits the public. First, the reduction of trash pick up from two days a week to one day, announced last year. Next, the announcement that Chester’s Standard and Poor’s “A” credit rating has been suspended due to its inability to produce timely audits and, finally last week, J. Lewis Crozer Library’s board voted to reduce its operation from seven days to five days a week, closing their doors on Sundays and Mondays after the city did not make good on its annual “gift” of $100,000 this year.
“It’s not as if we don’t respect or know that they need the money. Our support for them as a library didn’t wane because we didn’t have the money,” said Mayor John Linder.
Linder said the nature of how the library now collects monies from the city has changed since it became a tax-collecting entity in 2011.
“I believe the referendum was on the ballot when I ran,” recalled Linder. “Once I became mayor, we indicated that we’re going to give this (gift) but we have serious problems with our resources and with our budget.”
Linder also pushed back saying the library officially had become a “tax collecting entity” in 2012 therefore to give a “gift” on top of the taxes collected would be what he calls “double dipping” into tax monies.
“Within the second year, they became a tax collecting entity. Once that happened, there was never a discussion of what the residual affect of that was,” explained Linder. “For us to fund them would be double dipping in the taxes.”
He also said as a tax collecting entity the library must work to raise its own funding so not to rely solely on city dollars.
“The board of the library had the responsibility of raising money that would compliment their budget; raising money through other sources besides the city,” said Linder. “We’re still willing to try to support help them.”
Although the city is promising big returns for Crozer, the library has shared publicly it is concerned about the lack of detailed reporting the city uses when disbursing tax dollars.