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Sequim Library expansion remains in NOLS plan

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by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

Despite a dip in revenues, the North Olympic Library System remains set on maintaining its extended hours, increasing materials and taking the first steps to a bigger Sequim library next year.

 

This Thursday, Nov. 29, NOLS board of trustees looks to approve its $3.9 million 2013 budget, down $189,276 from this year.

 

The final budget hearing takes place at 5 p.m. in the Port Angeles Library, 2210 S. Peabody St.

Paula Barnes, NOLS executive director, said next year she plans to find a consultant for up to $26,000 to create a cost assessment and feasibility study of building a bigger Sequim Library over the existing site or on another site, a library with enough space for 20-30 years.

 

“I’m committed to having a solid plan and funding plan,” she said.

 

Barnes said she hoped the libraries would be in a better position when they began the process, but the county’s property taxes, from which NOLS receives 92 percent of its revenues, leave NOLS anticipating nearly $190,000 less in revenues than this year.

 

“Hopefully the county’s property taxes have bottomed out,” Barnes said.

 

To build a new library, NOLS would propose creating a Library Capital Facilities Area, likely within the Sequim School District boundaries, asking those voters support funding the building. Second, NOLS would ask those voters to support a bond to build a new facility.

 

Barnes said at one point NOLS was in talks with the City of Sequim to build a library on the same campus as the city hall/police station, but she said the city was on a quicker pace to build than the libraries.

Hours, materials

Sequim Library’s longer hours will remain another year.

 

With the hours instated last November, the library opens 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 the board of trustees remains committed to the NOLS 2012 plan that includes staying open longer and increasing materials.

 

NOLS did an assessment of the hours six months in and found the last hour of the day slow except in Forks.

 

“It’s just a marker for now and we’ll look at the hours again in January 2014,” she said.

 

Decreasing hours in 2014 is a possibility, Barnes said, but only to hours people can remember. The possibility of opening on Sundays remains out because of the decline in revenues.

 

Materials are going up next year to just over $408,000 with another increase set for 2014 as part of the NOLS 2012 plan, a financing plan for the four branches, including Sequim.

 

Barnes said there’s still a strong interest in print and a surging interest in new media such as e-books.

Balance the books

In order to balance the $3.9 million budget, the board of trustees looks to transfer slightly more than $118,000 from the Reserve for Economic Uncertainty and plans not to fill some positions.

 

Barnes said NOLS remains at its 50 cents per $1,000 assessed property valuation approved in 2010, so it can’t collect a 1-percent property tax increase.

 

Without capital growth, NOLS hasn’t put any money into reserves either, so to balance the budget the board hasn’t filled three positions — main library manager, a young adult librarian and a customer services specialist position — in Port Angeles, saving more than $150,000.

 

An IT position created through the NOLS 2012 Plan is on hold, too, until better economic times.

 

NOLS remains in negotiations with the employees’ union for its contracts, which Barnes anticipates being complete by the end of December.

 

Personnel costs next year are set at about 11 percent less than this year, at $2.5 million, with no cuts or furloughs planned.

 

The branches’ Friends of the Library groups plan to give $68,900, which helps with NOLS’ wish list of items such as the summer reading program.

 

“The library is tremendously valued and we’re able to do a lot with this budget,” Barnes said. “We could be in a much worse position.”

 

For more on NOLS, visit www.nols.org or call 417-8500 or 683-1161.

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