Council OKs more money for library materials

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 4, 2016

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Despite tough cuts elsewhere, City Council members said they want to make sure the library has enough money to continue to buy new materials in 2017. 

During the April 27 city budget hearing, Library Director Rosemary Orlando told City Council that they had zero capital requests listed in the budget — which meant that no materials were budgeted to be purchased in 2016-17. 

Nevertheless, she said, the library’s goal is to restore the materials budget to the state of Michigan average of $4.14 per capita. Currently, St. Clair Shores spends $1.03 per capita on materials. Libraries of its size across Michigan usually spend about $4.53 per capita.

City Manager Michael Smith said that the revenue brought in from the library millage does not cover the cost of the department, and over the past three years, the library has used carryover from the prior year to pay for materials like books, periodicals and other items in circulation for the following fiscal year. While the 2015-16 budget had a $100,000 placeholder in that slot in anticipation of carryover, city administrators did not want to do that this year because they had no idea how much money the library would have left as of June 30. 

“It’s always a little difficult to forecast here in April what our fund balance will be at the end of the year,” Smith said.

And because Headlee rollbacks and Proposal A caps are incorporated into the millage rate, the library loses out, Smith said. The department would have an extra $120,000 if it was able to collect the entire mill it is allowed to levy.

Smith said that there will likely be $22,000 carried over from the 2016 to 2017 fiscal year budget. The other option, he said, is supplementing the cost of materials from the general fund.

“In order to have a good library, you have to buy stuff,” Walby said. “Right here we’re looking at old magazines.”

Orlando said the library is still purchasing new materials, but older books that are wearing out can’t always be replaced. 

“(If) the last copy of ‘Catcher in the Rye’ is all damaged or lost or never returned, there isn’t money to replace the classics or the standards as well,” Orlando said. “(And) we’re purchasing one copy of new books right now.

“When you go to the shelf and that material’s not there, you leave frustrated or empty-handed because we do have to put you on a waiting list.”

Orlando said the Friends of the Library donated nearly $45,000 toward library purchases, including the cost of four iPads for the youth services section. 

Walby said he thinks the library needs a minimum budget of $100,000 for materials.

“I would echo that — we do need to put some money in there,” Councilman Ron Frederick said. “The materials budget has sort of been dropping every year.”

For the 2016 fiscal year, there was $61,000 in carryover. 

“If we’re not spending the money, people will notice. They’ll stop coming. We have a lot of investment there and a lot of users; the numbers are constant,” Frederick said.

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