The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local News

October 5, 2009

Library faces steeper cuts

ANDERSON­ — The anticipated deficit facing the Anderson Public Library has grown to represent a potential budget cut of nearly 30 percent.

The library board has been weighing options to reduce expenses over the last several months, and will meet Tuesday, Oct. 13 to adopt a budget that is certain to impact services and staff. No decisions have been made, but Library Director Sarah Later said recent estimates of revenue from all county sources have declined.

Later said the anticipated loss of revenue from all local sources now tops $1.5 million, based on recent analysis of a decline in County Option Income Tax receipts and a property tax collection rate that could decline to nearly 92 percent. It’s a situation facing all units of local government.

“These are all estimates,” Later said. “We prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

“We’re looking at all the options” for reducing next year’s budget, Later said. A budget committee of three library board members and library staff will meet at 9 a.m. today to discuss an array of options from cutting hours at the Lapel and Main Street branches to ending the Bookmobile program. Options at the Lapel branch include cutting hours to 20-30 per week.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Later said of recommendations from the budget committee. “We’re all waiting and waiting is very difficult.”

Previously, the Library Board and library staff members ranked services, and the board sent a strong message that preserving the Lapel branch was a top priority. Among both groups, Bookmobile and outreach services were those that scored lowest — presumably most prone to budget cuts.

Later said the library system has underspent its current year budget of $5,277,250. A hiring freeze has been in place for 18 months, the Anderson annex building has closed and the budget for book and material purchases has declined. But the cuts to come are likely to directly impact users.

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