Library officials will be asking the Board of Supervisors for additional funding to meet agency needs as part of this year’s budget debate.
The Fairfax County Public Library Board of Trustees voted Wednesday night to request an additional $1 million that would be used for youth service, staff training and technology upgrades.
The board had previously submitted a request for a $1 million increase in its budget for books and other material, aimed at restoring some of the reductions made in leaner budget years.
As the county recovered from the recession, the library cut hours, reduced staff and reduced spending on new materials to save money.
The library administration drew heat from patrons last year when it proposed beta testing a new staffing model aimed at maintaining current hours and services with fewer people in order to reduce operating expenses.
The Board of Trustees ultimately put a stop to the beta test and is working on a community survey and other mechanisms for determining the future vision for the library system.
However, some library staff and supporters continue to express concerns that positions are not being filled fast enough, librarians are overtaxed and some branches are not adequately staffed to meet demand.
Reston resident Kathy Kaplan told the Board of Trustees Wednesday that the staff of the Reston Regional Library is struggling to cover a long-vacant Sunday manager position.
“They are overworked and they are exhausted,” Kaplan said. “We’re not getting our positions filled fast enough.”
County Executive Ed Long’s proposed budget for fiscal 2015 essentially keeps library funding flat.
While he proposes a slight increase over the fiscal 2014 adopted budget, the proposed $25.7 million library budget would represent a slight decrease in total funding as compared to the amended budget for the current fiscal year. This is due to one-time money the Board of Supervisors allocated to the library system at the close of fiscal 2013.
Long’s budget includes about $275,000 for library employee pay raises, $250,000 in additional funding for materials and $61,500 for computer replacement. He proposed increasing the materials budget by $250,000 per year over the next four years to reach the $1 million total that the library system requested.
The $1 million for materials and $1 million for other needs that the Board of Trustees is requesting this year would be in addition to the increased funds already included in Long’s budget, said library director Sam Clay.
The $250,000 included in the budget would allow for the purchase of about 13,000 additional items, according to the budget document.
Some library board members expressed concern that the second $1 million request was not specific enough to make a clear case to the Board of Supervisors.
“There needs to be some sort of clear list of our needs as a system and what that amount will be able to purchase,” said Michael Cutrone (Hunter Mill).
Board members asked Clay to provide more specific information prior to the request going to the Board of Supervisors.
The Board of Supervisors will have public hearings on the budget in mid-April and will adopt the budget April 29.