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Library feels pinch from lack of funding

POSTED: August 7, 2014 12:57 a.m.

Without increased public funding, the forecast is cloudy on what the future holds for Hall County Library System branches.

“We’ll do all right this year,” Library Director Adrian Mixson told the executive board during a meeting Wednesday night in Gainesville. “But next year ... we’re going to be in critical shape.”

The budget increased less than 1 percent this year to about $2.669 million from $2.645 million.

Furlough days for employees and the use of reserve money to cover operational expenses are among the budget constraints the system faced entering the current fiscal year.

Hall County provides about $1.7 million in funding for operations, while the state covers about $310,000 in salary expenses.

Other funding comes from state grants and county impact fees.

But with a dwindling reserve fund, more than $100,000 in uncollected revenue over the last few years stemming from late fees and increased expenses, Mixson said additional service cuts and reduced hours could be on the table next year.

The library system could get additional funding if county voters approve a new five-year round of special purpose local option sales tax in March to support capital projects.

Mixson has identified $3.5 million in SPLOST VII money to renovate the Gainesville branch and purchase 60,000 books.

The executive board voted to transfer money from across funds to cover overages in salaries, insurance and other costs last year.

But Mixson said he prefers not to have to balance the budget that way going forward.

Layoffs and branch closings could also be up for discussion if new funding doesn’t come.

The library system closed two branches and laid off 20 workers four years ago.



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