Friday, September 10, 2010
When Jackson-Hinds Library System Executive Director Carolyn McCallum received the news this morning that the city had come up with an additional $150,000 in funds for the library system in the fiscal year 2011 budget, she celebrated with her staff.
"We were just saying, what are we going to do next year?" she told the Jackson Free Press today. "We were just praying that we wouldn't have to close branches. We are all smiling."
Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. told city council members yesterday that the city's finance department discovered an additional $100,000 from refinancing the city's bonds, which is bringing a total of $5.6 million in saving to the city this year. The additional $50,000 is from the city's technology fund, which can only be used for technology upgrades and purchases.
On Wednesday, McCallum requested a 15 percent increase in funding for the library system, or $224,879, from the city of Jackson. Last month, McCallum requested an increase of $227,414 from Hinds County to cover shortfalls due to cuts in state funding and a tax reduction on devalued Hinds County properties.
For fiscal year 2010, the city allocated $1,495,409 to the library system, and the county contributed $1,492,874. Council President Frank Blunston suggested that the city raise taxes to cover the shortfall, but failed to gain support from the mayor.
"We recognize that the library provides a very important service to our community, and we want to be as supportive as possible," Johnson said after the meeting. "… We heard them yesterday, they made a very passionate plea so we went back and looked. We wanted to do this as a good-faith gesture to support the library."
The prospects for the library system to receive additional funding from the county, however, aren't as promising. At 2:30 p.m. today, the Hinds County Board of Supervisors will have a public meeting and then vote to adopt the county's budget for fiscal year 2011, which begins Oct. 1.
McCallum said the county's proposed allocation for the library system is $1.47 million for 2011, and that even with the city's contribution, it will still be a challenge to manage services and staff.
District 1 Supervisor Robert Graham said it is unlikely that the library system will receive any additional funds when supervisors approve the budget today, but that is the case for most county departments.
"Revenues are down much lower than we expected," Graham said. "In order to adopt a balanced budget, we are going to have to furlough county employees eight days during the next fiscal year—one day a month for eight months. … The library is a priority, but it just fell victim to the budget"
McCallum said that the library system hasn't determined yet how its 10 percent smaller budget will affect services and positions.
"We are looking at means of just sustaining our entire budget," she said. "We are going to look at budget as a whole and see what materials are most needed."
McCallum added that because of the economic downtown, the library has seen an increase computer in use and library services.
"People are using the computers to fill out resumes and conduct job searches," she said. "Just looking at last month, we had 6,000 using the computers here at the Eudora Welty (library branch) alone."