Library Tax Rate Drops, 2020 Budget Approved


At their Final Budget Hearing on Tuesday, September 24, the Board of Directors of the Fort Myers Beach Library approved a tax rate of 0.3020 and a 2019 – 2020 Budget of $1,388,975.48, reflecting a 10% decrease in tax rate from the current tax rate. Present were Chair Sallie Seabury, Treasurer George Ballantyne, Secretary Jan Fleming, Ed Scott, Rick Sebastian and Erik LaFave.

Assistant Library Director John Lukow presented the final budget and tax rate to the board for approval, which was provided unanimously in under 10 minutes. Public attendance at the meeting was sparse and no one commented on the budget.

The Library Board then adjourned until 6:30pm when they began their regular September board meeting.

During the Treasurer’s Report, Ballantyne reported that he had reviewed the August financial report and found that any variance from the budget was generally favorable. The August report showed year-to-date (YTD) income about $17,000 over budgeted income for 2018 – 2019, while YTD expenditures were all under budget with the exception of Administrative Expenditures which was over budget by approximately $4,500.

Scott discussed an article he’d previously shared with the board on social work training and suggested the board consider providing on-call support services for staff. ‘We could consider hiring someone, a psychiatrist or a psychologist – and put them on retainer as a consultant. Then when our staff encounters someone, instead of going direct to the law, we could contact this professional,” Scott said.

Ballantyne suggested asking the board attorney’s advice. Jan Fleming brought up potential liability. Seabury pointed out that three nearby churches work actively with the homeless and could be called for assistance. Fleming suggested contacting the Beach Ministerial Association for guidance. Seabury concluded, “As a library, we need to have a resource, but don’t need the personnel.”

Sebastian reminded the board of their previous approval of staff training  and a check list of procedures to follow. “When something escalates, when a little thing becomes a bigger thing, our people are not the people to intercede. We were told that if something escalates, contact the LCSO and move our staff and customers to a safe area.”

Ballantyne asked Library Director Cletus Poser if staff had been trained using the board-approved guidelines. Poser responded that he has not yet met with each employee. Ballantyne suggested that periodic staff meetings be held to review the policies so all were aware of them.


By Missy Layfield