(FPL Press Release, June 26, 2013)
On Thursday, June 20th, the Ferndale Public Library Board of Trustees approved several revisions to the library’s 2014 budget, which included using $80,000 from the reserve fund. This followed a June 4th special meeting held to discuss their options after learning that the library’s tax revenues in fiscal year 2014 are projected to decline by 6%, generating about $60,000 less than what the board originally anticipated. The board was already planning to run a deficit of about $40,000 in 2014. In light of the new tax projections, the board’s finance committee formulated recommendations for how the library should move forward. At the June 4th meeting, Library Director Jessica Keyser outlined the library’s expenses and revenues, and several ideas were shared for cutting costs and enhancing revenue. “We reviewed every line item in our budget to identify ways to cut costs while maintaining services,” said Keyser. “We are trying to save money in ways that will have the lowest impact on patron experience in the library.”
When considering cost-saving measures, the library board is ever mindful of the library’s mission. “Our recently-adopted strategic plan is not gathering dust somewhere. And the priorities stated by survey respondents, while placing a high value on the collection, stressed hours and service even higher. We’re keeping that in mind as we struggle with the financial situation,” said board president Patrick Dengate. The board is faced with making some very difficult decisions regarding cutting costs, but the consensus of the board was that cutting hours of service or staff at this time is not an option. However, if the funding situation does not improve soon, the library board acknowledges that the current level of operations will not be sustainable. For fiscal year 2014, the library plans to save costs in the areas of building cleaning services, liability insurance, and materials purchases (about 20% fewer books and 15% fewer Music/DVDs).
Challenges to the library’s revenues include tax captures by special districts, totaling nearly $45,000 in lost revenue to the library. The largest special district drawing from the library’s millage is the Downtown Development Authority, or DDA. The DDA diverts about $30,000 from the library each year. A total of four other brownfield redevelopment zones capture about another $15,000 from the library millage.
Several board members and citizens present at the June 4th meeting expressed a strong desire to see those funds returned to the library as the voters intended when they approved a dedicated library millage in 2007. “Our supporters will be surprised to find that more than $30,000 in tax revenue was diverted from the Library to fund the DDA. We cannot continue to operate at our current level of services when tax dollars are redirected,” says Board Finance Committee Chairwoman Monique Herzig.
Fundraising is another major topic of discussion. The Ferndale Community Foundation recently awarded the library a $2,500 grant, which the library will use to hire a consultant in 2014 to create a fundraising plan, and learn new, more effective ways to solicit contributions to the library. To date in fiscal year 2013, the library has received about $18,500 in contributions, including revenue raised during special events and from the Friends of the Ferndale Library bookstore. The library board hopes to increase the amount of contributions received to at least $25,000 in fiscal year 2014.
All board meetings are open to the public, and take place on the third Thursday of each month. For more information about the Library visit their website at http://www.ferndale.lib.mi.us/.
For previous Library stories, see our special section at https://oaklandcounty115.com/category/library115/.