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Lexington Public Library Letter to Council

Lexington Public Library Letter to Council

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Published by LibraryJournal
Lexington Public Library (KY) Chairman Larry Smith explains why the library is resisting a request to give dedicated library funding to the Urban County Government.
Lexington Public Library (KY) Chairman Larry Smith explains why the library is resisting a request to give dedicated library funding to the Urban County Government.

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Categories:Types, Letters
Published by: LibraryJournal on Mar 22, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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March 17, 2010Dear ,Mayor Jim Newberry recently requested that the Lexington Public Library contribute$342,000 of library funds to the general fund of the Urban County Government. For anumber of reasons I will outline in this letter, the Board of Directors respectfullydeclined the Mayor’s request.The process for funding libraries was established by state law in 1944 after years of neglect by local governments. As you know the Library is not funded by revenuesfrom the Urban County Council’s general fund but receives its revenue from adedicated property tax. Simply put, the Mayor is asking for the “return” of funds thatwere never provided by LFUCG through the general fund in the first place.
What Mayor Newberry is asking for is not a return of funds provided by theUrban County Government, but a contribution to the LFUCG general fund fromthe funds dedicated to libraries through the property tax.
 Nevertheless, the Library Board considered the Mayor’s request and declined after considering the following facts:
The Lexington Public Library
has already reduced its budget in this fiscalyear by 5.4 per cent
($746,000). In his State of the Merged GovernmentAddress, the Mayor indicated that the city budget was being reduced by $12.5million, about a 4.5 per cent reduction in the general fund.
Added to the 5.4 per cent reduction we have already made,
approving theMayor’s request to contribute $ 342,000 to the Urban CountyGovernment's general fund would constitute a 7.9 per cent reduction
,significantly more than the reduction made in the city's general fund.
Anticipating that revenues from property taxes will remain flat and costs willcontinue to rise, we know that in order to balance the Library budget nextyear,
expenditures may have to be cut by another 3.3 per cent,
anadditional $462,000.If the 2010-2011 reductions are made,
the Library will have cut its budget
Page 2March 17, 2010
8.7 per cent
(over $1.2 million) in the 2009-2010/2010-2011 budget cycleeven without making the requested contribution to the City's general fund.
A contribution of $342,000 to the LFUCG general fund would bring totalcuts to an estimated $1,550,000 in fiscal 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.
The Library's budget is governed by state law which authorizes the use of designated funds from property taxes. As such,
the Library Board does nothave the statutory authority to contribute revenue to the LFUCG generalfund.
 In order to achieve this year's budget cut, the Lexington Public library has
reduced bytwo hours per week the amount of time Lexington's libraries are open
. We haveleft
14 staff positions unfilled
canceled some electronic databases
, and
reducedour materials budget by 10 percent
, in addition to
putting off several capitalprojects
. These cuts mean there are fewer people to help customers find theinformation they need, fewer new books, and a decline in the number of onlineresearch tools the library is offeringIf additional cuts have to made next year, LPL anticipates the possibility of having totake more drastic measures. These could include a further reduction in service hours,further staff reductions, and further cuts to materials.These cuts come at a time when the Lexington Public Library has become moreessential, and busier than ever, due in part to difficult economic times. Simply put, for every $1 invested in the Library, the community gets back more than $4 in services.Despite cutting our budget by 5.4 per cent, we have worked hard to maintain andexpand services. For example,
at the request of the Urban County Governmentlast year, LPL agreed to staff and provide programming at the GaineswayCommunity Center
. Prior to LPL’s commitment, the Community Center was aseldom-used facility with only a security officer on staff. Since the Library acceptedresponsibility for the Center, we have offered more than 40 programs to more than450 low income families and at-risk youth and delivered more than 1,400 books to theCenter.
LPL also assists the Carnegie Literacy Center by providing financial support,$55,000 in this fiscal year alone
. LPL partners with the Fayette County PublicSchools, the Parks and Recreation Department and many other city governmentagencies. The Library is currently working with the Police Department to provide

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