Library closures based on bad math

May 12, 2011 at 7:53 PM   |   0 comments

DETROIT, May 12 (UPI) -- Detroit's plan to close up to 10 library branches and lay off a third of its workers was based on erroneous financial projections, city authorities say.

City number crunchers allege they told library officials in March that 20 percent of the city's property taxes go uncollected. Library authorities interpreted that to mean property tax revenues would go down 20 percent a year until 2015 and they began preparing to close library branches, The Detroit News reported Thursday.

But Mayor Dave Bing's staff says the library got it all wrong.

"That is an incorrect assumption based on the numbers the city has presented," said Bing spokesman Dan Lijana. "To say city property taxes are going to decline 20 percent is not accurate."

Two Detroit commissioners told of the mistake say they may adjust their plan to shut down library branches, the newspaper said. However, it may be too little too late because the library system has already has notified employees 111 of 376 staffers will be laid off by June.

"I need to consult with staff but, if that's what it is, it would be much better now," said Commissioner Anthony Adams. "We need to verify all this information now."

The library system is mostly funded by a $4.63 million property tax and faces an $11 million shortfall in 2011, said Tim Cromer, the library system's chief administrative officer.

Bing's staff submitted a deficit elimination report to the state and City Council last week in which they suggested "Efforts to attract new business and create strong neighborhoods are likely to increase this revenue stream as will projected general improvement in the overall economic conditions."

"All this happy talk is not being backed up. You have to be consistent with these figures," Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown said.

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