Library budget would give more to patrons, reach out to communities

Manistee Library

Manistee Library

MANISTEE — A tentative 2015-16 budget that increases money spent on patron use items and saves for future capital improvements was approved by the Manistee County Library Board this week.

The tentative fiscal year 2015-16 budget increases spending on patron use items, such as books, from 12.68 percent of the budget this year to 13.88 percent for next year — an increase of about $10,000. The budget includes about $171,000 for audio visual, books, subscriptions, hardware and software, and programs.

However, a final budget won’t be approved until late September. The 2015-16 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

“From the July budget to the September budget, things change,” said Charles Haemker, library director. “We can still tweak this.”

But a tentative budget is needed in the summer to help the Manistee County Board of Commissioners plan the county budget, he said.

The budget is also adjusted throughout the year to match the needs of the library system.

“We don’t do the budget at the beginning and at the end, and then that’s it,” said David Richards, certified public accountant for the library system. “It’s a constant thing we look at throughout the year to make sure that the library is not getting into an adverse position that’s going to cause severe issues, or issues at all.”

The budget unanimously approved by the board on Tuesday yields a profit of about $36,000, which is put into a line item called “transfer to capital replacement.”

“That would be like a savings account,” Haemker said.

It is not designated to a specific project or payment plan, although it could be used toward an HVAC project, he said.

Most of the patron use increase in the tentative budget goes to subscriptions. The line item is listed at about $38,000, an increase of about $8,500. Most of the increase goes to online subscriptions — about $7,000.

Audio visual materials receives an increase of about $4,000 overall, although most items in the category are decreased. An increase of about $6,000 goes to eBooks, and an increase of about $1,500 goes to adult audio books.

Print book purchases are decreased by about $2,000.

The changes are in line with the strategic plan, which calls for the book collection to be 50-50 print and digital.

Spending on personnel was decreased by about $90,000, to about $797,000. The biggest cut came out of staff wages — about $55,000. Health insurance is also decreased by about $22,000.

Those personnel savings come from several sources, Haemker said.

This year’s personnel costs are high due to three retirements that occurred in January, and resulted in benefit payoffs that were not part of the original budget. Part-time temporary staff were hired to help during the replacement process, which was an unplanned expense. The employees that replaced the retirees were hired at lower pay rate than those who retired, he said.

Some of the projected savings also come from sub-contracting certain job tasks, he added.

Advertising and public relations spending is increased in the tentative budget from about $2,000 in the current year to $11,000 for the coming year.

Increasing advertising to 2 percent or 3 percent was discussed, which would take spending to about $28,000 or about $41,000, said Charles Haemker, library director. However, he said an increase to $11,000 should be sufficient to start.

Increasing advertising and reaching out to the public is also part of the strategic plan.

“This year is going to be the year of transition,” said Barry Lind, library board secretary. “This is kind of a status quo budget. I think in a year we’ll have the information we need to have to decide to focus a little more here or a little more there.”

The next step in the budget process is for Haemker to discuss it with the library’s union representatives.

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Posted by Justine McGuire

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