Library Sets Tax Rate;
Announces Construction Surplus
During the Final Budget Hearing on Tuesday, the Library Board approved a mil rate of 0.4599.This represents a decrease from both the 2012-13 rate and the rollback rate and is the lowest tax rate since 2004-05.
The final budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year was also approved at $1,394,881.
During Pubic Comment, Jim Stevens asked the board if taxes would be going down since the library was now fully paid for. Bruce Butcher pointed out that while the budget is decreased from last year, it is still higher than previous years. Pat Smith congratulated the board on reducing the tax rate and the total dollars in the budget.
During their monthly Board Meeting which followed the Final Budget Hearing, the
big news of the evening was announced - the completion of the construction project with a surplus of over $133,000. That money is not part of the 2013-14 operating budget and a decision on its use still has to be made by the board.
"We are finished,” Library Director Dr. Leroy Hommerding reported to a round of applause from board members and residents attending the meeting.
Hommerding provided a report on the conclusion of construction, noting that there are two issues which sub-contractors are addressing at no cost: the stair treads on the 1st and 2ndfloor and some dampers in the parking garage.
Board Chair Sallie Seabury praised Hommerding, "Thank you Leroy! You’ve done a yeoman’s job! We were blessed with a good architect and construction company and Leroy and Katie (Corning) watching all the time.”
Board member Karen Swanbeck noted that Bob Koenig of Manhattan Kraft Construction told her that he was impressed with how carefully Dr. Hommerding watched costs on the project.
During the Treasurer’s Report, Miffie Greer informed the board that spending is on target for the year. Income is higher than expected, primarily due to over $50,000 received in donations since October 2012.
In other financial business, the board also selected Ashley & Brown to handle the next three years of library audits. The board considered one other proposal from Tuscan & Company, but preferred a set price rather than a base price with possible add-ons as Tuscan had proposed.
During the Director’s Report, Dr. Hommerding noted a $4,200 gift from the Friends of the Library, which will be used for outside benches and to update the library’s classics collection.
July brought 152 new patron cards, compared to 81 last year. August brought in 118 new library cardholders compared to 43 in August 2012.
The Library’s Digital Storytelling Project (Sand Paper Issue 658; September 20, 2013) is off to a good start. Families are encouraged to participate and library representatives are working with the Beach School. Fourth grade students will be reading a book for the program and some will share their thoughts for the project.
The library will have Directory kiosks in place by the end of this year, allowing patrons to easily find collections and spaces within the library. Hommerding explained the purpose of the directories.
"We know that over 80% of what’s checked out of a public library is found by browsing. We want to make the collection as accessible and easy to find as possible.”
During Public Input, Peter Reid criticized the use of the term ‘debt service’ in past financial reporting in relation to construction funds, noting his surprise that auditors allowed it.
Pat Smith again congratulated the board on the completion of library’s construction project.
"You’ve fulfilled the promises that were made. You have followed through. You have reduced the millage rate.”
Bruce Butcher complimented Dr. Hommerding on the construction project completion under budget. He also suggested that the library consider some type of external accreditation.
"There should be some quality measurables other than people walking through the door or books checked out…You may want to look at some outside measure to understand how you stand. Obviously it’s about merit. The library does a really good job. I don’t hear anyone complaining about anything, but it might help you manage for the future.”
Jim Stevens suggested that the library reach out to clubs and condo associations to invite them to tour the library and eat at the library café, saying it’s a good way to introduce people to the library. "I think people are coming in and not getting to the 3rd floor.”
Hommerding noted that the Bookmark Café in the third floor Library Commons would reopen in October.
The next Library Board meeting will be held at the Library, 2755 Estero Blvd, on October 22nd at 6:30pm. An agenda for the meeting can be found at the library or on their website fmb.lib.fl.us.