Library budget reflects need to address wear and tear

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

The Wood County District Public Library trustees Monday approved a permanent budget for operations.

The $3,079,738 budget is 8.7 percent less than what was spent in 2017, but that budget reflected costs for adding onto and renovating the Walbridge branch library.

Library Director Michael Penrod said he tends to include a bit more money in some lines, so he doesn’t have keep coming back to the trustees to make transfers from one budget line to another.

The largest chunk of the library’s expenditures is for personnel-related costs at 52.41 percent.

He said he can’t really predict what will happen in personnel for the year. He did note that the library saved money by changing one vacant full-time position to two 20-hour-a-week positions. This will enable the library to better cover its seven-day a week schedule, he said. Also, it saves on health insurance.

Much of the discussion focused on the $200,000 budgeted for property maintenance.

The library’s own new addition and renovation will turn 15 this year. “This building will be old enough to get its learner’s permit,” Penrod said.

And, as noted by Brian Paskvan, president of the board, the building gets used by the public. “That’s what we want.” But that also means wear and tear.

The library has had persistent leaks in the roof, with buckets strategically placed to catch the water above the ceiling tiles. That will be addressed… again. Also, the library’s windows need to be cleaned this year.

That takes a power lift. While the lift is on site, Penrod said, it can be used to check other exterior features.

The lights in the atrium will be replaced. The bulb type in the fixture are no longer manufactured, so they will be replaced with LED lights. That will save money in the long run, Penrod said.

He said that custodian JJ Hofner has been replacing incandescent bulbs with LED throughout the building. The initial cost is higher but it will result in future savings because they last longer and use less electricity.

The library grounds also need another application of mulch in its various gardens, and its parking lot near the Carter House needs paving.

Penrod also noted that this budget includes a separate line item for ebooks, $120,000, which distinct from the purchase other electronic materials.

Ebooks are an increasing share of what people borrow from the library, said Michele Raine, assistant director.

This means fewer people may be coming into the library to borrow books. However, as Penrod showed in his year-end figures for 2017 that decline in traffic is made up for by people coming to the library for programming.

On the revenue side, the budget anticipates bringing in $50,000 through various fees, that despite an anticipated loss of $20,000 because it stopped collecting fines for overdue books.

Penrod said that’ll be made by the leasing fee for the water station located in Walbridge.

He said he’d rather get funds that way than through fines, which can discourage some people from using the library.

The largest share of revenue, $1,425,000, comes from the state’s Public Library Fund. That fund is based on 1.68 percent of the state’s general revenue. The library also brings in just over $1 million from it levy, which runs through 2020.

The budget also includes a $450,000 carryover from 2017.

The trustees also accepted gifts that help pay for the library. The Library Foundation raised $137,000 for the library, mostly from its Schedel Gardens summer fundraiser. The Friends of the Library donated $11,000 which is used for materials and to support programming.

That included from $700 from the vortex located in the library where patrons, most often children, drop coins, often pennies, and watch them spin into the hole below. That money is used for Children’s Place materials.

 

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