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Library budget looks healthier for 2011

Library budget looks healthier for 2011

by MATTHEW NASH

Sequim Gazette

Following an economic crunch in 2010 that saw a furlough and cost cutting, the North Olympic Library System's 2011 budget appears to improve services greatly.

Library staff have suggested a budget increase from $2,699,794 to $4,318,648 in 2011.

The NOLS board of trustees seeks to approve the budget at its 5 p.m. meeting on Thursday, Nov. 18, at the Port Angeles Library, 2210 S. Peabody St.

Paula Barnes, NOLS executive director, said making expenditure choices is much tougher with an increase rather than a decrease.

"It's a challenge we've happily taken on," Barnes said.

The increased budget stems from Clallam County voters approving a levy lid lift on Aug. 17. The current property tax of 33 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation will rise to 50 cents on Jan. 1, 2011.

Barnes said changes due to levy dollars won't be seen until at least midway through 2011. Her biggest initiative in 2011 is expanding the staff in order to add more open hours to the four libraries, including Sequim.

NOLS' 2012 long-term plan brings on 10 full-time and part-time staff for the libraries to be hired in late summer 2011. Barnes said these positions replace ones that were cut in prior years.

Capital projects

One part of the big push for more levy dollars is the large number of unfunded projects that need to be completed. Those include renovation of the Forks Library; resealing and striping the parking lot at the Clallam Bay Library; refurbishing the landscaping at the Sequim Library; and replacing a vehicle, carpeting and office equipment.

The Forks project takes priority due to the library's poor condition; it has not been significantly repaired since 1980. Staff budgeted $175,000 for the project and the Forks Friends of the Library is planning a capital campaign to help pay for the interior renovation. Staff is seeking other funding, too.

Barnes said if the Forks project is finished in 2012, then, in 2013, trustees will budget for a needs assessment, site analysis and design development for expansion of the Sequim Library.

Saving for the future

Next year, trustees intend to transfer $486,152 to the operating reserve to offset increases in the cost of basic operations and maintenance in future years that may exceed the 1-percent budget increases allowable by state law.

"Remember 1 percent is the allowable increase in the (library) district's property tax budget from year-to-year, as per state law, but we know from experience that costs can go up by more than 1 percent at any time," Barnes said.

Due to declining income this year, trustees transferred about $80,000 from the "Reserve for Economic Uncertainty" fund into the operating budget to balance the budget. Staff took unpaid time off from March 29-April 3 to help but now the administration believes the funds transfer might not have been needed. Barnes said trustees intend to replenish those funds, particularly since the economic uncertainty isn't showing any signs of ending.

Other significant budget items:

? Books and materials in 2011 go from more than $317,000 to about $350,000. The NOLS 2012 plan directs staff to increase materials to $363,828 in 2012. Materials include books, DVDs, Playaways and planning for

e-books and e-book readers.

? Timber revenues aren't included in the budget due to their erratic nature. Staff expects some monies to come in from the industry, to save it in 2011 and use it in 2012 for capital projects.

? Staff wants $15,000 transferred to the Technology Contingency Fund, which now totals $100,000. IT staff estimates NOLS has more than $850,000 worth of technology hardware, software and systems that need to be replaced.

? Staff training has a proposed increase from $13,305 to $20,766.

For more information on the budget, contact Paula Barnes at 417-8525 or at director@nols.org and

the board of trustees at libraryboard@nols.org.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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