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Library board holds the line on slimmer budget

By Staff | Oct 5, 2012

JIM LINETTE Sanibel resident Cristin Bishara, who recently finished her first novel set to publish in 2013, checks out Sanibel Library's display promoting its popular author series.

The Sanibel Public Library will continue to operate on fewer tax dollars after the board of commissioners approved the 2012-13 budget at its Sept. 20 meeting.

The board kept the millage rate at .375 for the sixth consecutive fiscal year. That millage rate translates to an operating budget of $1,601,190 for the library, which also receives generous private donations through the fundraising efforts of the Library Foundation.

“Our services remain intact,” said library office manager Cathy Cangelosi. “We made cuts in all departments, but maintained our level and quality of services.”

Users of the library will notice a few changes. Overdue book fees will be increased while the selection of music CDs and research databases will be smaller.

“We slimmed down a little in technology and very little in programs,” said Cangelosi.

Hours and services are expected to remain the same.

“Revenue remains down due to lower property values and the library receives most of its funding from local property taxes,” said board treasurer Dan Moeder. “Board members did not want to raise the millage rate so as not to increase the burden on taxpayers.”

The library’s budget was $2.18 million in fiscal year 2006-07 and has been shrinking ever since. It was $2.014 million in 2007-08, $1,678 million in 2010-11 and $1.655 for 2011-12.

“Our budget is tight. We always look for greater efficiencies and ways to save taxpayer dollars,” said library director Margaret Mohundro. “This year, unfortunately, we need to increase fees to raise revenue; and, we are decreasing funding for some items, including music CDs and some technology upgrades.”

The book budget remains steady and users will continue to have a variety of reading choices and quick turnaround on popular books on waiting lists, according to Mohundro. Additionally, the library is focusing on Florida authors and other programming in celebration of “Viva Florida 500” in 2013, celebrating 500 years of Florida history, so there are many interesting programs.

“Many public libraries are facing very severe cuts in hours and collections,” Mohundro said. “On Sanibel we are fortunate to have a supportive public and we have been awarded grant funds by the Library Foundation to help fund the author series, ebooks and children’s summer reading program.”