At its December meeting the Pierce County Library System’s Board of Trustees adopted the Library’s 2010 $28.6 million operating budget, with taxpayers at the center of the decisions. The budget addressed a $1.5 million shortfall which resulted from the Library’s revenues not keeping up with the costs to run the Library, because of reduced values on assessed properties and a drop in construction of new buildings throughout the county.
Approximately 97 percent of the Library’s funding comes from taxes on houses, commercial buildings and other property. The reductions are mostly behind-the-scenes changes and the Board is confident customers will still receive outstanding quality service from the Library System.
The Board did not approve its legal authority to collect 1% more in tax revenue than it did in 2009, thus reducing costs to taxpayers. Under state law, for taxing districts with populations of more than 10,000, the property tax limit is the lesser of 101 percent or 100 percent plus inflation.
“We carefully weighed the reductions in our budget to ensure the Library continues to serve customers and taxpayers,” said Eugene Matsusaka, chair of the Library Board. “We strove to balance the economic challenges in our communities while maintaining staff jobs.”
With the majority of the Library’s budget comprised of staff, the significant reductions were to staff. The Library eliminated 24 positions, mostly in supervisory roles. In all, the Library laid off nine people. The Library also converted 31 positions to lower pay and responsibility, to make a clear delineation between processing materials and direct service to customers.
Guiding principles for the 2010 budget included:
- Making decisions in the best interest of the communities and taxpayers.
- Preserving promises from a re-authorized levy voters passed in 2006 which added hours in libraries; offered more books, movies, audiobooks and other materials; increased services to help prepare children to read and with homework; and improved customer and technology services.
- Providing up-to-date and future-oriented services.
- Developing and supporting technology.
“In developing our budget we created a long-term plan that is strategic, flexible and sustainable, and is in the best interest of taxpayers,” said Neel Parikh, executive director of the Library. “We made decisions for the long-term interest of the taxpayer, who pays the bill for library services.”