News

Despite economy, library to expand hours in 2012

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

More materials and extra hours remain on track for the Sequim Library and the other three branches of the North Olympic Library System despite bad news from Clallam County.

 

In the proposed 2012 budget, materials such as books and movies are rising nearly 4 percent to just over $364,000 and increased hours should begin in early 2012, said Paula Barnes, executive director of NOLS.

 

The new tentative hours are from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

 

Barnes said a date hasn’t been set for the new hours because they want all branches synchronized to start at the same time. NOLS also wants to fill two open positions in the Clallam Bay and Forks libraries by mid-November.

 

Barnes said a major potential hit came to the libraries on Oct. 21 from the Clallam County Assessor’s office: She was advised to anticipate a 6-percent reduction in the county’s assessed property valuation rather than the 2-percent projection from September.

 

The libraries receive 92 percent of their revenue from property taxes.

 

In 2010, NOLS passed its first levy lid lift since 1978 to help with the NOLS 2012 plan, a 10-year business plan for financial stability and to repair and maintain deteriorating infrastructure. NOLS legally can’t collect

1 percent more property tax revenues in 2011 because the 2010 levy lid lift already hit the maximum of 50 cents per $1,000 assessed property valuation.

 

The proposed 2012 budget is $4,120,357, a decrease of just over $198,000 from this year.

 

Barnes said learning of the 6-percent drop was surprising.

 

“This threw everything out the window,” she said at the budget’s public hearing on Oct. 27, in the Port Angeles Library.

Budget breakdown

To cover the budget gap and fulfill the 2012 plan, board members allocated $152,000 from the Reserve for Economic Uncertainty fund. A young adult librarian position at the Port Angeles Library will remain vacant until late next year, too.

 

Barnes said NOLS eventually intends to sell its Port Angeles rental property, which currently receives no rent.

 

Friends of the four libraries are anticipated to give grants worth nearly $47,000 to the libraries. Lauren Dahlgren, Sequim branch manager, said she requested a $14,500 grant from Friends of the

Sequim Library to support the Summer Reading Program.

 

Some major budget items in 2012 include:
• $50,000 for a system administrator for the Polaris Integrated Library System
• $25,000 for a new phone system in all branches
• $41,000 for a new van.

A big question mark remains about installing a new roof at the Forks Library, an upgrade provided for in the NOLS 2012 plan. The budget allocates $100,000 this year for the project, but Barnes said it’s a question of when work could begin.

 

A community group recently approached NOLS about fundraising for the project, so staff and board members want to give them time to raise money. For now, the roof is patched and will hold out, Barnes said.

 

The timber reserves money the libraries receive annually is expected to be about $200,000 in 2011 and board members want most if not all for the roof project, Barnes said. Board members plan to revisit the roof plans in spring 2012.

Follow through

Barnes said the NOLS 2012 plan is carrying through because of the board of directors’ fiscally conservative actions and NOLS won’t be looking at cutting positions.

 

Library employees are in the second year of a two-year employment contract with 0.5 percent cost of living adjustment on Jan. 1, 2012. Staff salaries increase from $2,517,406 in 2011 to $2,818,989 in 2012.

 

Don Zanon, NOLS board member and a member of the finance committee, said when preparing the budget everyone was committed to the 10-year plan. The committee plans to meet quarterly rather than annually to make modifications on both the revenue and expenses side, he said.

 

Dahlgren said the budget doesn’t affect Sequim users but her staff sees a potential cut in training dollars. On the bright side, $20,000 remains allocated for a study on designing the expansion of the library.

 

“No. 1 is people asking for a bigger building and more hours,” Dahlgren said about what users requested.

 

Barnes said pre-design work might not begin until fall or winter 2012 and it could take 18 months to two years to create a public-approved design before going to voters. She said it’s better to start sooner than later on the project to educate and receive input from the public on the process.

 

The NOLS board of directors seeks adoption of the budget Nov. 28 in the Port Angeles Library. For more information, visit www.nols.org, or call the Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave., at 683-1162.

 

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

 

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