The 2010 Budget adopted by the Library Board on December 17, 2009 allows the Library to continue to offer the open hours and services our patrons need and are using now more than ever as they struggle to manage household budgets during what is clearly the most serious economic downturn since the great depression. This request was developed under the direction of the Library Board’s Budget and Finance Committee pursuant to guidance provided in Resolution 2009-34, adopted in public session by the full Board of Trustees on July 16, 2009.
Like many patrons, the Library’s “household budget” is strained by reduced county and state support. An overview and summary of the strategies recommended to address these needs are presented below.
2010 Erie County Operating Budget Adopted: On December 1st the Erie County Legislature adopted the County’s 2010 Budget. Changes made by the Legislature included restoring $750,000 requested by the Library to help sustain operations, emphasizing the Library’s initiatives involving County-wide literacy services, cultural tourism opportunities, and programs to assist our patrons meet the economic challenges of today’s economy. The County Executive did not veto this change, so the change becomes part of the County’s 2010 Budget.
This restoration also allows the Library, pursuant to Resolution 2009-5, to include in the 2010 Budget an annual payment to Erie County in the amount of $250,000 to return savings associated with the ECFSA’s (Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority) efficiency grant for the Library’s RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) initiative.
Continues a Two-year Plan to Address County and State Budget Reductions: The County’s budget addresses a significant fall off in sales tax revenue and other local revenue directly related to the financial and economic downturn in the U.S. and many other countries. This economic downturn led the County to discontinue the $1.6 million service restoration funding approved by the County Legislature in 2008. State aid supporting the operating budget is estimated to have fallen to levels not seen since the late 1990’s.
Fortunately the Library’s financial position is sound, with sufficient projected available fund balance to allow continuing implementation of a logical financial plan to address the reduced revenue picture while continuing to address key initiatives and maintaining quality library services throughout the entire Library System.
This plan includes the following initiatives:
1. Continuing conversion of our existing materials handling, inventory, circulation and security system operations to a much more efficient RFID based system. The first phase will convert 51% of the Library’s collection housed in the Central, Buffalo Branch and Amherst Libraries using funds from a $1.7 million Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority efficiency grant awarded in 2009, which provides the opportunity to use technology to improve public service and achieve staffing savings realized as attrition occurs. Once fully implemented, the grant funded project phase would generate recurring savings estimated at over $500,000 per year;
2. Reducing staff positions system-wide by attrition; reallocating and redeploying staff to turnover generated vacancies which will also increase turnover savings;
3. Completing a system-wide staffing evaluation and assessment; leading the way to developing models for sharing staff resources, and thereby easing the transitions caused by attrition-based staffing reductions;
4. Enlisting the assistance of contracting library directors and ACT (Association of Contracting Library Boards of Trustees) board members, branch managers, administrators and department heads to restructure our organization; seek alternate revenue streams; and rethink the way in which we provide services and handle internal administrative responsibilities;
5. Assessing options and scenarios to proactively address potential significant additional budget reductions in 2011, including one of several options listed in the current Erie County Four Year Financial Plan to balance projected funding gaps that would reduce the Library’s 2011 allocation by a further 10% ($2.2 million); and
6. Using the unencumbered fund balance in excess of the 5% threshold for contingency to help cover the costs of services and staff during the transition.
Barring significant additional reductions, these actions will enable the Library to maintain open hours and service levels at all of our locations as we restructure while avoiding “out-the-door” layoffs in 2010. This approach positions the Library well to make the best case for future support from the legislature and the County Executive in 2011 and beyond.
A summary schedule of recommended budget balancing changes by account is presented, followed by resolution 2009-51 and related budget charts and schedules in the document at the link below.