The board of trustees is considering auctioning off several pieces of the library’s $3.17 million collection in order to help balance the 2016 budget, which will also be discussed during today’s meeting.
A large drop in projected revenue for next year has led to a significant budget deficit, meaning the library will have to either find new revenue to fill the hole or makes cuts to staffing and services in order to balance the books.
The library’s tentative budget for next is calling for $1,033,000 in total spending. That’s $156,000 – or about 13 percent -lower than the current year’s budget. Library board president Tom Rankin says that’s resulted in some tough decisions needed to be made for next year.
“We’ve made some recommendations in order to balance the budget without selling the artwork,” Rankin said following a community input session on Oct. 8. “But those are very painful cuts… it’s a big challenge for us.”
The main reason for the drop in next year’s budget is due to an extremely low fund balance. In 2015, the library was able to allocate the vast majority of its fund balance – $186,000 – to help close a spending gap. Now there’s little money in the fund balance remaining for next year, meaning the library was able to only appropriate about $30,000 for 2016 – a $156,000 drop from the current year.
The library devotes an estimated 75 percent of its budget toward staffing and benefits. Without any new revenue, the board has reduced payroll and various benefits in 2016 to $791,657 – a cut $128,000 from the 2015 levels – meaning the elimination of some positions and hours of operation. Another $30,000 would be eliminated from the amount spent on new materials, dropping that line item down to just $74,000.
4-YEAR HISTORY OF BENEFITS AND SALARIES
- 2013 Audited Total – $748,922
- 2014 Audited Total – $768,532
- 2015 Final Budgeted Amount – $919,954
- 2016 Proposed Budget Amount – $791,657
To make matters worse, the library may have to make further cuts to its budget. That’s because the city of Jamestown – which has contributed $365,000 the past few years – is facing its own budget crunch. That’s led the mayor to call for a $15,000 cut in funding for 2016, and that cut may be even higher once the city council amends the spending plan.
The issue of selling the art has become a contentious one for some community members, who’ve spoken out against it and have even started their own Facebook page entitled “Save Local Art” in order to draw attention to the issue. Rankin admits selling the art isn’t a popular move, but it may be the only viable option remaining.
“My take on the entire community is that it would be a real shame to sell any of the pieces, but if we have to sell some to keep the doors open, then that’s a difficult decision that we probably have to make.”
In response the opposition to the artwork sale, the board has asked for fundraising ideas that could be used to help inject a large amount of money into the budget, so it wouldn’t have to sell any items from the art collection.
The library board will discuss its 2016 budget, plus further discuss the art collection situation, during today’s meeting, which begins at 12:15 p.m. and is open to the public.