AARP needs new space

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 8, 2002

No longer will local AARP volunteers be able to use the Austin Public Library to help low-income taxpayers file their income taxes.

At its July 8 meting, the Austin Public Library Board voted to discontinue the annual waiver that allow the AARP tax volunteers to use the library's small meting room during the tax season.

"Although the program provides a marvelous service to low-income residents of Austin, the board agreed that the project has outgrown the space at the library and increased use of technology has led to greater electrical and phone line use," a letter from the Library Board informed the AARP's Ken Rolfson.

Email newsletter signup

Rolfson is the coordinator of the organizations's tax volunteers.

"It came as quite a shock to us," said Rolfson. "The letter wasn't signed."

The AARP volunteers have prepared taxes for people for four years at the library.

According to Rolfson, the AARP gave the library $900 to defray expenses one year. No request for reimbursement has been forthcoming from the library in the four-year stint the AARP has used the library's facilities.

The Library Board notice also said increased programming has created the need for "greater use of library space."

For the last two years, the library was unable to offer the small meeting room for use by anyone other than the AARP outside of their service hours during tax season.

That was due to the set-up and take-down time needed.

The library lost revenue as a result of the AARP's presence. "The Library Board feels that it is essential that we have this space available to the entire community; not just to one group for such an extended period of time," the Library Board's letter noted.

The Library Board went on to recommend possible alternative sites for the AARP's tax volunteers to help low-income citizens.

Those choices include the Mower County Senior Citizens Center, the basement at the Welcome Center, the Oak Park Mall and Mower County Transit headquarters.

According to Rolfson, the AARP hops to continue the service next spring at a different location. However, it is premature to say where that will be, he indicated.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at