GLENDALE : Cuts Could Hamper Computer Service

Just when Glendale was getting ready to catch up with the information age, a shortage of funds could postpone plans to expand the city's fledgling computer information service, officials said.

The LNX system, operated by the city's libraries to collect and spread information about government and community activities, is scheduled to go on-line in August with a computer bulletin board offering a calendar of events, local business listings and electronic mail. Future plans include connections to the library's electronic catalogue and access to the Internet.

But it could all fall by the wayside indefinitely if the City Council decides to slash funding for the program in order to avoid new taxes on cellular phones and hotel rooms to help bolster the city's 1995-96 budget, said Laurel Patric, the city's director of libraries.

"We don't have a final answer from the council yet, but this could very much slow things down at a crucial time when this program is supposed to be expanding," Patric said.

The LNX program was first unveiled two years ago as a series of touch-screen computer kiosks in public buildings that provide user-friendly information about government services. Library staff members are asking the council to budget $171,000 for the program this year to pay for the start-up of the new on-line service, which would require users to get a special software program from the library.

The money would also pay for a consultant to help train representatives of participating organizations how to feed information into the system's database.

"We plan to spend a lot of time out in the community training and encouraging people to use the system," Patric said. "Obviously, the more people who use the system, the more valuable it is."

The City Council, which must adopt the 1995-96 budget by the end of the month, is currently mulling several new fees and fund transfers to help pay for slight budget increases requested by several departments. A new tax on cellular phones and an increase in the hotel bed tax were rejected by the council.

City Manager David Ramsay said the city will probably have to seek financial support from the private sector to keep LNX alive, just as many nonprofit on-line services are supported by corporate donations.

"We want to keep it growing," Ramsay said. "Personally, I'm very excited about the potential for enhancing communication throughout the city."

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