Thursday, December 23, 2010
Friends fill budget gap for county library
By SUE WATSON
With half a large budget item depending on local funding, the Friends of the Marshall County Library System stepped up to offer to supplement this year’s allotment from the county to proactively protect a state grant in 2013.
Diane Schule, director of the Marshall County Library System, and Gene Leonard, president of the Friends, received permission for the Friends to donate close to $2,000 to make up for a shortfall due to budget cuts this year in Marshall County. The cut of 3.3 percent that all county departments received would be 1.3 percent too deep for the library to protect its eligibility for participation in a grant program to help pay staff expenses. The Personnel Incentive Grant Program looks two years backward to determine that local funding authorities are maintaining efforts to fund the public libraries’ salaries and benefits.
“This grant, which has been in existence since the 1970s, has never sought to take the place of local funds, only to supplement them,” Schule said. “All participating libraries must demonstrate that the funding they receive from their local funding authorities has been maintained at a level that is no less than 2 percent less than that received in the last audited year.
“This year, Fiscal Year 2011, will be examined when the State Board of Library Commissioners is planning Personnel Incentive Grant allotments for FY 2013.
“We would have fallen below the eligible level for the first time ever with the current cuts. The recession and reduced tax revenues have everyone making drastic budget changes.”
This year’s local grant is about $65,000, which amounts to approximately half the total for all personnel costs for the Marshall County Library System, Schule said. And that grant has made a difference in the quality of professional librarians who can be attracted to the job, she said. That was the original intent of the grant.
As for next year, Schule said the library would deal with that budget when it comes. The Friends are able to offer to supplement the county budget this year because of one particularly generous anonymous donor. That may or may not be true next year.
Friends of the Library chapters are organized to raise funding for special projects in public libraries. The local Friends have helped in many ways, particularly by providing help with purchasing more computers and software, she said. This year the Friends were asking permission to donate $2,000 to the county budget to enable the county to raise the allotment to reflect only a 2 percent cut, thus enabling the library system to maintain its eligibility for the grant.
“The main concern was that it would be legal and ethical to make this donation, and that has been determined,” Schule said.
The board of supervisors voted unanimously to accept the money and apply it to the library’s allotment for the current year.
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