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Funding for new branch not certain
Library Director Jon McDaniel told commissioners more money is needed to fully stock and operate the Hampton Park branch. - photo by Frank Reddy
The Hampton Park library branch is scheduled to open in January, though Forsyth County’s commission and library board face some tough decisions to make that a reality.

Commissioners heard from Library Director Jon McDaniel and Mary Helen McGruder, chair of the library board, at Tuesday’s work session.

McDaniel explained reasons for a proposed $547,634 increase in the library’s 2010 budget.

“The additional funding we’re asking for is solely for the purpose of operating the new Hampton Park Library,” McDaniel said, adding the initial request of $1.1 million to staff the building and stock its shelves had been halved.

In order to open the north Forsyth library branch at the reduced level, library board members said they likely must cut the hours of all three branches in 2010.

Existing staff and some new hires would then operate the new location.

The decision to cut hours came after McDaniel met with County Manager Doug Derrer in May.

“Our decision as a library board is that we will close the library at your direction, depending on the budget decisions you make,” McGruder told commissioners Tuesday.

“We wanted to make sure you knew that we are trying to do our part. We know this is a large increase, but we’re opening a whole new multimillion dollar building.”

The library system’s overall budget in 2009 was about $4.1 million, with the proposed budget for 2010 at nearly $4.7 million.

The system also received $458,000 from the state in 2009. State funding for 2010 has not been determined.

Also Tuesday, McDaniel spoke of the county’s high demand for the third location. He presented numbers showing a 19 percent increase in library visits from fiscal year 2008-09.

“I’ve been a librarian for 34 years,” McDaniel said. “This is the first time I’ve seen increases of this magnitude.”

He attributed the increase to the economy.

“People are choosing to stay at home and not spend money, and they’ve already paid for the library with their taxes, so they’re taking advantage of that,” McDaniel said.

He said normal year-to-year growth for the library is about 5 to 8 percent, which “tracks the growth of the population.”

Library staff broke ground at the Hampton Park branch in December. Construction has been paid for by funding from the state and the previous local 1-cent sales tax.

The commission could revisit the issue of funding for the new library at future meetings, the next of which is set for Tuesday.

The commission has also heard from other county departments on how the proposed $90.4 million budget may affect them.

E-mail Frank Reddy at