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Library board backs budget
System braces to do more with less
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Forsyth County News

 

The Forsyth County Public Library has been preparing to do more with fewer staff members in anticipation of less state funding and increases in the health benefit plan costs.

Those measures are reflected in the nearly $5 million fiscal year 2013 budget, which library board members approved in a 4-0 vote on Tuesday, with Tim Plotner absent.

The spending plan anticipates a 3 percent drop in state funds. The cost of health plans, however, will remain an unknown until mid-April, when the state sets the rates, said Anna Lyle, assistant director for support services.

Lyle expects the Forsyth County system will see some increase.

“We’ve been over the past few years working hard to have fewer staff knowing this was coming,” she said.

As employees have left, the library has typically been leaving positions vacant or hiring for a less expensive one, Lyle said.

The system hopes to open its fourth branch, Post Road library, in summer 2013, which has prompted a move to consolidate staff desks and add more independent options at existing locations.

“We will continue to increase the amount of self-service, so that when Post Road opens, we will be able to move some of the front line staff,” Lyle said.

The new branch will have little impact on the library’s fiscal year budget, which runs congruent with the state calendar from July 1 through June 30, 2013.

The library also operates on a calendar year budget to coincide with the county, which contributes a majority of the system’s funding.

In April, Forsyth County’s finance committee will begin reviewing requests from its departments for the 2013 budget.

The library will seek an increase of $178,100 to operate the Post Road branch for a half year, as well as its 2012 funding appropriation of about $4.1 million.

In the case of a large state health benefit increase, the library will seek assistance from the county if the costs top the $10,000 the system can absorb, Lyle said.

“Our hope is state health doesn’t throw us a big curveball,” she said. “We would like to put all of our eggs in the Post Road basket.”

The overall 2013 fiscal year budget shows a small decrease, Lyle said, but she doesn’t include the unknown donation in that total.

“With Friends of the Library donations, we should break even with last year,” she said, “but we certainly aren’t seeing the increase we’d hoped for.”

Library fines are expected to continue a decline, which Lyle said is “good news, bad news.”

Fewer fines means residents are getting more use out of the collections, but the system sees less income.

Lyle also reviewed areas that the system has found savings, such as a new cleaning contract and lower utility bills.

The board also agreed to move $25,000 from those areas into materials to continue to expand the library’s collections.