Libraries may limit spending on new books

Officials at Sno-Isle Libraries are considering buying fewer books in 2009 to bring next year’s budget in line.

Sno-Isle Libraries is considering cutting the budget for purchasing materials by $320,000, libraries spokeswoman Mary Kelly said Monday.

The library district’s board of trustees received their first budget draft last month. The board asked for cuts in the library system’s materials budget for 2009 from the proposed level of $5,191,452 million.

Later this month, library staff will present the board with a materials budget of $4,871,452, Kelly said.

Officials said next year’s budget will mean fewer new books on the libraries’ shelves and less money dedicated to replacing old equipment. Sno-Isle officials said the rising costs of fuel, materials, and benefits, and a falling levy rate have contributed to the 2009 budget outlook.

The budget trouble was expected. Library district residents approved an increase to Sno-Isle’s property tax levy in 2003, but district officials expected the levy rate to drop to the point where services would be impacted within five years.

“As an organization, we planned for this eventuality,” said library director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory. “Over the last five years we have managed tax revenue carefully and increased our reserve funds to bridge the years when the budget fell short of demands for services.” In response to 2009 projected revenues, the board of trustees is also evaluating cuts on equipment expenditures and library district operating expenses.

“We have two goals in our current budget planning,” Woolf-Ivory said. “First, it is important to the board of trustees that we maintain a high level of service in our community libraries and online. Second, we are committed to incorporating important services and programs that our customers told us they wanted during our recent strategic planning process.”

The board will hold two public hearings on the 2009 budget before adopting the budget. Hearings will be held during the regular board meetings on Monday, Oct. 27 and Monday, Nov. 24. The meetings start at 4:30 p.m. at the Sno-Isle Libraries Service Center, located at 7312 35th Ave. NE in Marysville.

The preliminary operating budget for next year is $32,445,669.

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