Friday, December 18, 2009

Stalled Table Games Bill includes Cash for Libraries Component

A bill that would legalize table games in Pennsylvania's casinos has been shelved until after the new year. But it does include funding for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh through a 1% tax on future table games at Pittsburgh's Rivers Casino as well as another 1% for the Allegheny County Library Association. Appropriations staff project the tax will generate $850,000 next year for the Carnegie Library. The library has reported a $1.2 million deficit for next year.

But Allegheny County Representative Chelsa Wagner says the table game money is contingent on the library system keeping all of its branches open, including the Knoxville and Carrick branches which it planned to merge. Wagner hopes to get a little insight into the library's finances after an audit of the organization wraps up, but thinks local lawmakers will have to press on their own for the facts. She also says she's critical of the organization's lack of effort when it comes to raising operating funds. Wagner isn't satisfied when Executive Director Barbara Mistick mentions that Andrew Carnegie never provided an endowment for the libraries and expected the public to take up the cost. She notes that nonprofits cannot solely rely on public funds and says the library needs to create an endowment or reserve for hard economic times.

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