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Library prepared for hike in health costs
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Forsyth County News

Other action

Also on Wednesday, Forsyth County Public Library’s board:

• Approved an adjustment for this year’s fiscal budget to reflect a $7,200 donation from the FCPL Friends & Advocates, a fundraising group. The funds will go toward prize books for the summer reading program, performers and display boards.

• Heard an update on the new personalized reading suggestions, in which staff members get input from library users and recommend new books. More than 200 people of all ages have used the program in the past couple months.

• Discussed plans to offer free library cards to students at North Georgia College & State University campus in Cumming, which is expected to open in August.

Note: All votes were 4-0, with member Jean Bowline absent, unless otherwise noted.

— Alyssa LaRenzie

The Forsyth County Public Library won’t face employee health care increases from the state large enough to hinder its future plans.

Members of the library board were relieved Wednesday as they reviewed how the system’s budgets could be impacted by the last-minute decision of the state legislature for the 2013 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The library receives both state and county funding, and so keeps budgets for the fiscal and calendar years, respectively.

The health care costs will rise about $10,000 for the library, said Anna Lyle, assistant director for support services.

When board members approved a budget in March, the $10,000 increase was the better-case scenario which allowed the library not to seek assistance from the county to cover the costs.

Staff members met with the county finance committee Wednesday morning to address their plans for the 2013 calendar year budget.

The system hopes to open its fourth branch, Post Road library, in July 2013, for which it requested $178,100 from the county to operate for half of the year, Lyle said.

In subsequent years, the total is expected to double to $356,200.

Three full-time positions, five part-time shelves and 10 more hours for two current positions make up the total request for personnel, plus about $100,000 in annual operating costs.

Lyle said the library has been preparing to open the fourth branch by increasing technology that cuts down on staff. It also plans to have front line staff share time at the new branch.

When the Hampton Park branch opened in 2010, the library didn’t seek an increase for the first partial year and requested about $124,000 from the county in 2011, she said. But the allocation of resources and funds saved up allowed the system to ask for less then.

“We’ve tapped all the resources already that we used to enable that,” Lyle said. “It was easier then to spread staffing out. And this time, we’re going to be spreading already [thinned out] staff.”

The county is in the early stages of reviewing budget requests, but the library system is optimistic it can move forward with opening the branch next year.

The construction for Post Road will go on regardless of whether the operating costs are available, since the library planned to take advantage of a state building grant that would otherwise have expired.

Board members voted 4-0, with Jean Bowline absent, to award the contractor bid to Benning Construction Co. for about $4.1 million, pending county commission approval.

Board member Kristin Morrissey commended staff members for their work keeping the budget in check during difficult financial times.

“You guys have just set such an example in the last few years of cutting expenses, being more efficient and using technology,” Morrissey said. “I’m blown away that you’re able to consider opening another [branch.]”