Pierce County Library System faces $3 million shortfall in 2013 budget

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At its December meeting, Pierce County Library System’s Board of Trustees adopted the Library’s 2013 operating budget of $25,423,927 and $1,632,000 for capital improvements. The budget addresses a $3 million budget shortfall, approximately 11 percent of the Library’s 2012 budget.

“We made difficult decisions again this year, keeping in mind accountability to taxpayers and maintenance of core services,” said Linda Ishem, chair of the Library’s Board of Trustees. “Our libraries continue to be very busy—with an all-time high number of card holders. We made reductions in areas we anticipate will have the least detrimental impact on the hundreds of thousands of children and adults who rely on Pierce County Library.”

2013 marks the fourth year that the economic downturn is showing an impact on the Library’s budget, due mainly from reduced revenue from property taxes, which is nearly 97 percent of the Library’s funding source. From 2010-2013, the Library’s budget has been reduced by a total of $6.4 million.

The primary steps to address the 2013 shortfall include reduced the books and materials budget and eliminate the bookmobile service. The board transferred less money from operating budget to capital budget, adjusted payments for health care and retirement costs, and used money from cash reserves/savings.

In mid-November the Library stopped running its 65-year-old bookmobile service, which was aging and costly. In 2013 the Library System will continue to serve children in schools in low-income areas that most recently checked out books and movies from the bookmobile.

Also, for 2013 staff further sharpened its books and materials buying decisions, which means offering fewer items for people to checkout. To help address the budget shortfall, the Library decreased its books and materials budget by $1 million, which is a 25 percent reduction from 2012.

The Library’s priorities for the 2013 budget include maintain core services defined by voters in 2006—access to library services, books and materials, services for children and teenagers, and customer service and technology, continue to be good stewards of taxpayers’ money, provide up-to-date and future-oriented services, and build a customer base for the future.

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