Friday, October 17, 2008

Budget 2009: overview & operating budget

The Library, like other City departments, submits a budget request for the following year in the summer. Ours goes through our Library Board, and so already has a level of citizen input and oversight. During July, August and September, the City's Finance Department goes through all the budgets with a fine tooth comb, the Mayor makes tough decisions, and an executive budget is published in early October. The City Council's Administrative Services Committee will hold hearings on departmental requests on Oct. 25, there will be a public hearing on Nov. 5, and the Council's budget adoption is scheduled for Nov. 12.

So the Library's 2009 budget request is now a matter of public consideration. I think we've submitted a pretty frugal budget, but we expect that the Council will take a hard look and ask us tough questions: that's their job. We hope that the Council will agree that we're being frugal and that our library continues to provide a good value; and we hope that the community will support us and let their Council representatives know what they think.

Some (boring but important) numbers & statistics:
  • Over 1,600 people a day use the library -- so far this year, an increase of over 13,000 people through our doors compared to 2007
  • Over 64,000 more items circulated in 2008 than this time last year (up 7%) -- we circulate more than 4,000 items per day
  • Holds/reserves filled for our patrons up 13% from last year
  • More than 26,000 people have attended a library program for adults, children or teens -- up 47% from last year
  • Volunteer hours are up 13% from last year (we have almost the equivalent of two full-time staff in volunteer hours)
  • Meeting room and studys have been used more than 1,600 times this year -- up 8%
And some 2009 budget numbers:
  • Library revenue projection up 4.38%
  • Total library spending up 1.29% (not including any cost of living salary increases)
  • Total library operating budget up 0.59%
  • Library materials budget - no change from 2008
  • Library staff - no change from 2008
So our bottom line is that we're doing a lot more work without a lot more City property tax support: a good value for the community. Circulation, always our biggest output number, has increased steadily for years, while the City funded staff has actually decreased a bit. For next year's request, we held the budget line, but managed to put a bit more into our underfunded training account. The Mayor trimmed about $30,000 from the Library Board's request, in materials and equipment, and while it's less than we felt we needed, we're OK with those cuts.

Additional revenues from our Foundation and Friends & the OWLS system, along with technology and volunteers, are keeping us afloat, but we have to keep looking for more long-term solutions to stay efficient and meet service needs. One example of operating efficiencies: we're working with our system staff on a new method of creating the slips we need when routing items that we loan to other libraries or send back to after our patrons have used them. If we can shave one second off each transaction, it will save us hours every month.

For interested citizens, hobbyist accountant or anyone with a lot of time, the City budget is available at our Reference Desk, or you can read the Library's operating budget request here. More information about capital budget request, including the library building -- coming soon to a blog near you.

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