Library ranks second lowest for funding

Published 8:41 am Saturday, June 9, 2012

To the Editor:

The Blackwater Regional Library appreciates the excellent story filed by Mr. Brian Whitt about the possible cut to our budget by the City of Franklin.

I would like to add a couple of details.

The story states that Franklin’s share of the library’s budget increased to keep up with inflation and maintain competitive wages. This is actually one of several reasons for the increase.

Each of the localities served by the Blackwater Regional Library — the City of Franklin and Isle of Wight, Southampton, Surry and Sussex counties — contracts with the library to fund a portion of the library’s budget, according to an agreed-upon formula based upon population of the locality and usage statistics of the libraries in the locality.

In the 2012-13 budget, Franklin’s share of the library’s budget increased one percent from last year because of population increases in the city.

The library’s budget also includes mandated increases in the state retirement system costs and a minimal salary increase for staff, which is less than the cost-of-living increase for this year.

Library staff has received no salary increases since 2008, despite a salary survey conducted by Springsted Inc. in 2007 showing that the library was trailing badly in salaries in comparison with local and similar organizations and unable to compete for qualified staff.

The library made a conscious, difficult decision to cut its own budget for our localities for the past two years to be sensitive to the difficult economic climate.

Our current budget contains no increases in operations despite increasing costs of fuel, materials, etc.

The 2012-13 regional budget request is actually less than our 2009-10 budget and Franklin’s share increased less than $5,000 over the amount paid by the city for the 2010 fiscal year, despite the 1 percent increase in its share of the overall regional budget.

The library has historically tried to keep its funding requests to its localities as low as possible.

We rank second from the bottom among the 13 Tidewater public libraries in local funding — that is how much we receive per capita from our contributing localities.

In contrast, we are third from the top in program attendance.

Our sincere hope is that the Franklin City Council will recognize the value of the library and vote to fully fund it.

Yvonne Hilliard-Bradley
Director Blackwater Regional Library