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Patrick may debate library cuts
Impact of loss not yet determined
Thursday, June 28, 2012
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Blue Ridge Regional Library system has not determined how to handle reduced local funding, even as another reduction may be considered.
Lock Boyce, chairman of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors, said Wednesday that the issue likely will be discussed in the near future, even though Patrick County has approved giving the library system $261,982 in fiscal 2013.
“Certainly we can still cut the budget,” Boyce said. The board’s next regular meeting will be in July.
Officials in Henry County and Martinsville on Tuesday approved a total of $117,016 in funding reductions to the library system in fiscal 2013. All three local governments help fund the system.
Martinsville and Henry County’s decisions were made because a portion of each locality’s funds has been used to pay expenses related to the Bassett Historical Center, which no longer will be part of the library system beginning Saturday. When the center becomes a stand-alone agency, the library system will not be responsible for its expenses.
A portion of what Patrick County gives the system also is spent on the historical center, but library officials have said they do not know how much.
Boyce said he wanted to reduce Patrick’s funding to the library system earlier in the budget process, but other supervisors disagreed. He does not know if there is support for the motion now.
“It’s really not that I’m anti-library or anything,” he said. “(But) if you look at the total package we provide for the library, I think it is an area we could cut some funding because we are in such a jam for our schools. Rather than lose teachers, I thought the library system (and other agencies could) tighten their belts.
“I would like to cut them to $150,000. The reason is because we provide a lot of in-kind” services, including maintenance on the library building in Stuart and utilities, Boyce said.
Paula Burnette, chairman of the library board, said Wednesday that the system has not figured out how to make the needed adjustments due to decreased city and county funding, and it is too early to know what those adjustments might be.
“We need to get a handle on it. I will be talking to the library board and either (current director Drusilla Carter) or whoever our interim director will be. We will take a real close look at the paperwork and the numbers,” Burnette said.
Carter recently said she will resign effective next month to care for ill relatives.
The library board had proposed possible layoffs and other actions to manage budget constraints.
Burnette said Wednesday that she anticipates the three libraries in Henry County will be open fewer hours, but the full impact of the funding losses likely will not be known until Monday.
The current fiscal year will end Saturday, Burnette noted. “So it’s a matter of working with the (library) board, the director and the interim director. We’ve got a little bit of shuffling to do,” she said.
Burnette declined to say who the interim director might be, calling that a personnel issue.
A search committee has not been appointed to fill the director’s position, Burnette said, and she does not know what the library board will decide about that or the funding issue.