Cultural center won't change library, arts funding


JASPER — With construction of the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center underway, Jasper is just over a year from having a new, downtown home for the Jasper Community Arts Commission and the Jasper Public Library.

The idea of bringing the two entities together under one roof first came up in 2014 when the boards of both organizations toured the former Hoosier Desk building on the corner of Third and Mill streets. With that site now becoming the location for the shared building, some are asking how the two entities will share management of the facility and land once the project wraps.

The plan from the beginning has been for the library to cover library expenses and the arts commission to cover arts expenses in the same way they do now, Library Director Christine Golden and Arts Director Kyle Rupert said.

“At the end of the day, when all this is said and done, the library will own the library wing and the city will own the arts wing,” Golden said.

Essentially, Golden and Rupert said, both entities will simply be moving their operations to a new facility, with the exception of the arts’ performance space, which will stay at the current location on College Avenue. Nothing in either organization’s funding structure is changing.

Those funding structures are very different for each entity. As a department of the city, the arts commission gets its funding from the pool of funds available to the City of Jasper through the city’s budgeting procedure, just like any other city department. In a nutshell, the procedure works like this: department heads create a proposed budget that they present to the mayor and Common Council. From there, the mayor and council review the budgets, request cuts and have the final say on department budgets. For the arts department, Rupert said, much of the funding comes from grants, ticket sales and other revenues the arts department brings in.

“We have had a very successful financial model for the last 40 years,” Rupert said. “I wouldn’t anticipate any of that changing.”

The library’s funding comes primarily from property tax revenues, with a small amount coming from the county income tax — which every government entity in the county gets a cut of — and revenues from rental fees.

Although the Jasper Public Library is part of the countywide system with four branches, the funding structure is split contractually into the Jasper Public Library and the Dubois County Contractual Library, with each operating as its own entity with its own budget and board of directors. Residents of the City of Jasper and Bainbridge Township fall under the Jasper Public Library, and everyone else in the county falls under the contractual library, with the exception of property taxes from Patoka and Cass townships, which go to fund the Huntingburg Public Library.

Golden noted that no funds from the contractual library are being used to build the library’s portion of the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center, nor will those funds be used to run it once it’s complete.

“If you do not live in the Jasper library district, you are not paying for this building,” Golden said.

While both the arts and the Jasper library will retain individual finances and operations, there will still be teamwork that comes into play due to the shared spaces and systems in the cultural center.

The building, for example, will only have one HVAC system, and therefore a single utility meter. Golden and Rupert said that during building design, having two separate systems was considered, but it was determined to be cost prohibitive.

“That would have added a significant cost to the project and a significant burden to the taxpayers,” Rupert said.

Of course, that means the building will only get one utility bill. The plan there, Golden and Rupert said, is simply to split the bill 50-50.

As for shared facilities, such as the atrium space and parking lot, arts and library leaders will plan for that maintenance together and have line items in their individual budgets to share those costs in a way that’s beneficial for both entities.
And any shared costs would be beneficial for users of both the library and the arts center.

“This is something that we haven’t taken lightly,” Golden said. “We would never expect that someone out of a certain tax district is paying anyone else’s bill.”

The parameters for shared expenses will all be laid out in an interlocal agreement between the Jasper Public Library and the City of Jasper. Creating that agreement will be one of the next steps in the process now that the design phase is complete and construction has begun.

Golden and Rupert encourage members of the public to reach out to them with any questions or concerns. Golden can be reached by phone at the Jasper Public Library at 482-2712. Rupert can be reached by phone at the Jasper Community Arts Center at 482-3070.

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