Library reserves are required, serve purpose

Editor,

A recent letter to the editor made very misleading statements about Sno-Isle Libraries finances, and I want to clear up the misinformation.

Sno-Isle Libraries has an excellent reputation as a steward of public funds, having received 31 consecutive years of clean audits from the State Auditor’s office.

The auditor’s office recommends that public agencies like Sno-Isle use reserves to safeguard public funds until they are needed, and Sno-Isle Libraries has established several reserve funds over the years — each identified for specific purposes.

For example, the library has a self-insurance reserve. Why self-insurance? It saves Sno-Isle money on benefits costs, and the reserve smooths out the volatility of our healthcare costs.

Reserve funds are also set aside for equipment and buildings maintenance and replacement, and a 60-90 day emergency fund.

The reserve most pertinent to maintaining library services is the Levy-Rate Stabilization Fund.

State law dictates how Sno-Isle Libraries is funded. The voter-approved levy sets a rate for the following year and establishes the amount of money that Sno-Isle can receive from that rate. The law then limits how much that revenue can increase each year, regardless of how fast property values rise.

Depending on the levy rate, the library uses only the revenue that is necessary to maintain services, and puts the rest in the reserve fund.

This strategy helps our revenues last as long as possible against increasing costs. The Levy Rate Stabilization Fund also allows Sno-Isle Libraries to maintain service to customers over a longer period between elections.

Sno-Isle’s board of trustees believes this approach best achieves the efficient management of library finances.

The board of trustees is comprised of seven individuals from Island and Snohomish counties dedicated to oversight of your public libraries.

Our intent is to enhance the sound fiscal condition of Sno-Isle Libraries so it can continuously deliver excellent library services to the communities we serve.

The use of budget reserves is a practical and prudent approach to managing public funds and one that continues to serve Sno-Isle and its customers well.

I invite you to take a closer look at the library’s reserve policies and other financial information at www.sno-isle.org/funding

Marti Anamosa

Clinton

President, Sno-Isle Libraries Board of Trustees

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