Final Public Hearing Set For September 27
On Monday evening, the Fort Myers Beach Library Board held their first public budget hearing for the coming Fiscal Year in the Library’s conference room on the third floor. The entire board: Debbie Whitehead, Sallie Seabury, Miffie Greer, Lorrie Wolf and Mark LaFave were in attendance, along with Library Director Dr. Leroy Hommerding.
Dr. Hommerding began by explaining that – due to rising property values – the Library will see an increase in revenues of $80,000 but the board is not raising the millage rate. It will remain the same as last year’s – .3499.
“Last year we not only did the roll-back rate, we reduced taxes 15% below that,” said Hommerding. “We also did that the year before while nothing went down in price. We’ve done really well – one thing revenue-wise that helped us is practically everyone paid their taxes this year, also…and we had more in the way of donations.”
“State aid – this year we got $16,000, next year we expect to be a bit higher at $17,000,” Hommerding continued. “Fine collections are down, interest is the same at $4,000. Under expenditures, we will see a decrease of just over 9%, and in Library Expenditures we are up just under 1%.”
Seabury asked why advertising is down $900, and Leroy explained that is because donations have increased – including donations for specific items.
“Remember last year, when we talked about this giant puzzle – 9 feet by 4 feet – we had one gentleman offer to donate the rest of what we needed,” Hommerding replied. “So now we’re going to need some kind of backing for it. This is where publicity needs to step in.”
Dr. H. explained that he’d built a 3% increase for staff into the budget, though an electronic librarian will not be needed for the first couple of months.
“I also have money in there for a part-time children’s librarian if we manage to get one – there’s a shortage statewide for those,” he said. “I’m also proud of the fact that we’re holding the line on utilities, a number I expect to go down – the new solar panels should save us $8,000/year in electricity.”
As far as eBooks, Dr. Hommerding said that many libraries have reported that their usage has plateaued.
The property appraiser’s fees also went down, something Dr. H. said is based on a percentage and that sometimes a refund is given if they overestimate the cost. Miffie asked about a jump in equipment expenses – from $500 to $6,000 – and Dr. Hommerding replied that is for the creation of a ‘spacemaker lab’ (where people from the public can come in and make things) and for additional reading spaces in the library.
“The reserve funds are in good shape – including catastrophe, building replacement and solar project – total expenditures are just under 3%.”
The board agreed to the budget as it stands, and to a mil rate of .3499.
Leon, island visitor, was the only person who made public comment and he said he thought the budget looked to be in good shape.
“I appreciate the library, especially the outside spaces and the computers, and I think it continues to be run efficiently and modestly,” he said.
The final budget hearing will be held on September 27th at 5:30pm.
Keri Hendry Weeg