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Pierce County Library System's Board Addresses $3 Million Shortfall in 2013 Budget

The Pierce County Library System said its Board of Trustees has decided to cut books and materials budget and eliminate bookmobile service to deal with the $3 million budget shortfall.

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.”

According to the press release, 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 books and materials budget.
  • Eliminated bookmobile service.
  • Transferred less money from operating budget to capital budget.
  • Adjusted payments for health care and retirement costs.
  • 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.
  • Be good stewards of taxpayers’ money.
  • Provide up-to-date and future-oriented services.
  • Build a customer base for the future.

- Press release by Pierce County Library System.

Sharon Hodgins December 15, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I am a Friend of the Bonney Lake Library and have been so for about 5 years. Many libraries nation-wide have Friends Groups, who are a group of people who attach themselves to a local library and raise money for the local library to provide extras that a local library may not be able to afford. I belong to the Friends of the Bonney Lake Library, and because we receive wonderful donations of books and other media from our patrons, as well as surplus books and media from a local bookstore, we are able to sponsor about 4 book sales a year. The money raised allowed us to pay for 3 Christmas programs this year, and for many items given free to patrons throughout the year -- lanyards used often to library cards, stickers to hand out to kids, movie contests in which we give out tickets to a movie based on a book, new furniture for our meeting room -- we are really proud that we have been able to do this. At our January meeting, I hope we will discuss contributing some funds to help pay for items that may be cut -- such things as magazine subscriptions, newsppaper subscriptions etc. No way that we can fill this hole -- but it is disturbing to me that we will no longer be able to distribute materials that people want in a timely manner.
Marci Spear December 15, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I don't get it - every part of the Pierce County 'wheel' seems to need more propping up & yet after statements like 'this will solve the financial problems'... NOTHING seems to work out that way. This same thing has happened w/ consolidating the Fire Depts & now the library system. I would like to remind folks that in 2006 a levy passed to support the library through an addition property tax - Let let quote from the preview Q&A for that levy- "In 2006, taxpayers paid 40 cents for every $1,000 in assessed property for library services. On average, homeowners paid $90 in 2006 for library services. Restoring library funding to 48 cents per $1,000 of assessed property would cost the average home assessed at $244,000 an increase of $27 for one year - 2007 - for a total of $117." There seems to be no levy proposed for 'services' vital to living that does not pass around here & yet time & time again the same thing happens. Still there is never enough funding. It has been 7 years since I saw 'more money coming into my household' & yet somehow we manage, on much less. I am expected to do as much as I did or MORE with less. Kudos to the volunteers like Ms. Hodgins - I am afraid that this may be the way for the future. There just is no more that regular people can give dollar wise. People are tired of throwing money at services with no real results -
Sharon Hodgins December 15, 2012 at 06:58 PM
It is my understanding that the above 2006 levy was used mainly to keep librarys open more hours. Until then, no library in the Pierce County system was open on Sunday. To honor that commitment, hours will still the same. What has led to the decrease in the library's budget is the fall of real estate value, and a decrease in many people's property taxes-- therefore, less tax money collected for government and the services it tries to provide. Unfortunately, we are all trying to do more with less -- and that is true of almost any government service. I can assure you that this is the last place librarians wanted to go - that is, to cut the amount of materials purchased for circulation. But it is now a necessity.

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