Prattsburg Free Library Budget Information

Details Create the Big Picture

One of the many things we learned from the defeat of our first budget proposal was that we need to provide voters with more information regarding the budget, and specifically, more detailed information. This web page is our best attempt to provide that information to you. There were other lessons learned of course, and we’ll address those issues throughout.

Why Are We Putting a Budget to Vote?

First, let’s address why the library is putting a budget to voters of the school district. One of our motivations is to distribute the cost of operating the library across the area that we serve. The school district best represents the area we serve.

The situation at hand is much more than an issue of fairness though. As you can see from Figure 1, this year our expenses will exceed revenues by 21% or $10,500. Unless something changes, we are fast approaching a day when the library will have to make drastic cuts to its hours of operation, staffing, programs, services, and circulation just to survive. Thanks to responsible management throughout the years, we will be able to withdraw money from our general reserve fund to get us through the year. However, it is very clear that current funding levels are not sufficient for the operation of a library.

We Promised Details...

Figure 2 provides a detailed account of our expenses for 2017. As you can see, wages account for more than 53% of our budget. Thankfully we have a volunteer board to provide oversight of the library’s operation, we have a volunteer that takes care of our bookkeeping, a volunteer that has provided web and technical support, and other community members that have helped with a variety of tasks. Short of cutting hours, there is not much that we can do to reduce wage expense. Utilities account for almost 10% of our expenses. Measures taken to keep our utilities expense in check include the installation of additional insulation and most recently, new lighting fixtures and energy efficient bulbs. Collection materials make up the next largest category of expenses. We have worked hard to make sure that our collection is comprised of the materials patrons want most. In a recent survey, patrons indicated they would like to see more DVD’s, so we have reduced spending on print materials and applied the savings toward the purchase of DVDs. One last thing, you may be wondering what the Southern Tier Library System (STLS) Cost Sharing is all about. Well, it's a bargain. STLS provides training, library management resources, information technology & online library catalog support, and a variety of other services. You may be most familiar with some of the digital services we provide that are made possible by STLS: OverDrive (downloadable audiobooks and ebooks), Zinio (digital magazines), freegal (free music), and STARCat - the online catalog. Each member library pays a modest fee to help cover the expense of providing these services.

The Revised 2018 Budget Proposal

Now that we have a better understanding of our current situation, let’s take a look at the revised 2018 budget proposal that you will be voting on. Substantial cuts were made to the original budget proposal in an effort to respect the outcome of the failed budget vote that took place on May 23rd. Proposed operating hours were reduced from 40 hours a week to 34 hours a week. The reduction in hours from the original proposal reduced wage expense by $12,383. We scaled back or eliminated some newly proposed programs, cut allowances for cleaning, reduced the budget for building maintenance and reduced our proposed reserve levels. These adjustments lowered the proposed tax levy from $97,249 to $81,360.79, a reduction just shy of $16,000. Please note in the complete budget to the right, we broke out a few line items into their own category to provide as much detail as possible.

So why the increase over the 2017 budget? Some of the reductions made to the original budget proposal that failed in May, still represent increases relative to our 2017 budget. However, the increases are much more modest. The patron survey conducted earlier this year indicated a desire for increased hours, specifically, more evening hours. In response to that survey, we originally proposed an additional 14 hours of operation per week. In the revised budget proposal we added just 8 hours of operation per week. This more modest increase in hours of operation increases our utilities expense and our wage expense, but not as much as the original budget proposal. The survey also indicated a desire for more programs. We want to build on the success of our summer programs with the addition of programs that appeal to more people within the community. Many of you who responded to the survey let us know that Movie Night was missed. The new budget would make the return of Movie Night possible. We have also entertained the idea of hosting a few Movie Nights in the Park each summer, but we need your support. Last, we have to face the realization that we reside in an old building that is in need of repair. We increased our budget for Building Maintenance and Repairs over our 2017 budget to reflect that reality. That said, the amount set aside for Building Maintenance and Repairs in the revised budget is $2,750 less than originally requested. We also propose adjusting our reserve balances to better prepare for work that will inevitably have to be completed on our building in the future.

One Last Thing

We want to be clear about our short term future plans. We are not buying any space. The grants available for building renovations or new construction require significant matching funds that we simply do not have. It would be irresponsible to undertake any project of that scope without taking advantage of all available grants. If we build programs and patronage that warrant more space, we would consider it at that time. However, the first step to obtaining more space would be soliciting community input to see if there is support for doing so. We would also solicit input from local government officials and local business owners. We would much rather be part of a comprehensive plan for the town than do something on our own.

Important Reminders

  • August 1st: An informational forum will be held at the library at 7:00 pm.
  • August 8th: The budget vote! Polls will be open from 12:00 - 8:00 pm at the library.
  • Anyone 18 years or older whose legal residence is in the Prattsburgh Central School District is eligible to vote.

Revised Budget Quick Facts

  • $15,888 less than original tax levy request.
  • Levy on a $100,000 assessment would be $44.04 a year.
  • Levy on a $60,000 assessment would be $26.43 a year.
  • Would allow pursuit of grants previously not available to us.
  • Allows modest expansion of library hours and programs.

How Will the Budget Vote be Worded?

"Resolved, that the Board of Education of the Prattsburgh Central School District shall be authorized to levy taxes annually in the amount of $81,360.79 for the Prattsburg Free Library to provide public library service and pay over such funds to the Board of Trustees of the Prattsburg Free Library."

The Complete Budgets:

Prattsburg Free Library 2017 (Current) Budget

Estimated Revenues
Town Support
County and State Aid
Donations and Fund Raising
Other Aid
Total Estimated Revenues
Withdrawal From General Reserve Fund to Cover Revenue Shortage
Total Revenue and General Reserve Withdrawal

Collection Materials
Southern Tier Library System Cost Sharing
Building Maintenance and Improvements
Supplies and Miscellaneous Expenses
Total Estimated Expenses

Prattsburg Free Library Revised 2018 Budget Proposal

Estimated Revenues
Tax Revenue
Annual Campaign
United Way
Total Estimated Revenues

Fixed Expenses
Fire & Safety
Accounting Fees
Southern Tier Library System Cost Sharing
Free Gal
Total Fixed Expenses

Variable Expenses
Payroll Taxes
Marketing (includes vote notification expenses)
DVDs & CDs
Books & Magazines
Office Supplies
Bank Fees
Program Support
Building Maintenance and Repairs
Total Variable Expenses

Reserve Funds
Building Reserve
Technology Reserve
General Reserve
Total Reserve Funds
Total Expenses