Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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August 8, 2011

Goshen Public Library Director: More cuts may be coming

GOSHEN — The Goshen Public Library Board is seeking community input as it considers a variety of new spending reductions that may affect public service starting in 2012 or sooner.

Public input is being invited during the August Library Board meeting Aug. 15 at 4 p.m. in the Goshen Public Library, 601 S. Fifth St., Room A/B downstairs.

Reductions began in 2008

The Library Board began trimming day-to-day operating spending in 2008 in anticipation of declining property tax revenues caused by Indiana’s recently enacted property tax cap legislation, Library Director Andy Waters stated in a press release this weekend. Property taxes are the library’s largest source of operating revenues — about 65 percent of the total. By 2010, the need to hold down spending became more urgent as property tax caps grew and began to cut deeper into operating funds.

Waters stated, property tax cap reductions will exceed $200,000 in 2012, or about 10 percent of total library operating revenues. This trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

Additionally, starting in 2011, the library’s second largest revenue source, income taxes, also began to drop by about 20 percent due to issues including declining wages in the library’s taxing area because of the weak economy. This problem may also continue for some time, he said.

When combined, property and income taxes make up about 80 percent of all library operating revenues. The rest comes from much smaller revenue sources that are likely to remain flat, at best, for some time. Under Indiana law, public libraries may not raise operating revenues from any other sources than the ones mentioned above.

Since 2008, the Goshen Public Library Board has taken many steps to hold down spending, Water said. They included: not filling several full- and part-time staff positions when they became vacant; freezing staff pay; reducing staff benefits; reducing spending for books and other library materials; and cutting spending in other areas of the budget.

Centralizing check-ins

Within two months, the library will take another significant step to help hold down costs, Waters said, namely centralizing all check-ins and check-out activities at just one main floor location.

Minor building alterations are under way to facilitate this change, he said.

Centralizing these activities will allow two departments to merge into one, providing new opportunities for greater staff efficiency and other future cost savings, Water said. He added, another important benefit of this change will be the introduction of several new SelfCheck stations. Patrons will be able to use SelfCheck stations to check out their own books, DVD’s, etc., in many situations, rather than waiting in line for an employee to perform this function. More news about this change will be released soon.

Possible additional reductions

Because library operating revenues are likely to continue to drop in 2012, the Library Board must now consider taking even more steps to reduce spending, Waters said. For now, the board is considering a tiered-approach to accomplish this.

The first tier of cuts would involve less severe reductions, assuming revenues do not drop too much more next year. However, if revenues drop more than expected, deeper, second or third-tier cuts may need to be considered.

Examples of first-tier reductions include:

• Modestly reducing library open hours by about 10 percent during hours which historically are used the least by the library patrons, including late weeknight hours. This change could start as soon as September 2011;

• Continuing to cut personnel costs through future attrition, if possible. Personnel costs represent about 65 percent of all operating costs;

• Continuing to reduce spending for library materials such as books, AV items, etc.;

• Continuing to look for ways to save on employee benefit costs; and

• Continuing to seek ways to reduce other areas of the operating budget.

For more information on the possibility of spending reductions at the library, contact Goshen Public Library Director Andy Waters at 574-533-9523, by cell at 574-606-4999 or by email at awaters@goshenpl.lib.in.us.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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