Carson City Public Library grappling with next year's budget

For the Carson City Public Library, the addition of about $27,000 to a specific portion of its budget could bring the community benefits worth that amount many times over.

The library may have to forget about applying for an array of state and federal grants that allow the library to obtain materials and provide many programs if the city can't add that much more money to its books and materials budget for this next fiscal year, according to department staff.

State funding rules stipulate that books and materials budgets for libraries must make up at least 10 percent of their overall budgets before they can be eligible for grants that libraries rely on, said Library Director Sally Edwards.

The proposed budget of $1.6 million allows for roughly $133,000 to buy materials, and the library must have more than $160,000 to meet this requirement.

Members of the Carson City Library Board of Trustees opted not to approve the library's proposed operating budget. It would be "irresponsible" for the trustees to accept a budget "under the state standard," said Chairwoman Leslie Danihel.

"We don't want to do anything to jeopardize our grant funding," she said.

The board and library staff hope the Board of Supervisors provides the more than $27,000 through supplemental funding - money allocated above the budget and distributed at the discretion of the supervisors.

Last year, however, was the first time the library didn't receive any supplemental money, Edwards said. It wasn't included among recipients of community service grants doled out by the supervisors at that time either.

The library board ranked the $27,000 as its top supplemental funding priority because of the impact it will have on its overall operations.

Grants have allowed the library to obtain "tremendous" numbers of books and technology upgrades, and without the minimum amount of spending on materials the potential for hundreds of thousands of dollars more to be found could be lost, Edwards said.

The city offered to provide janitorial services to make up for the materials deficit, but the library declined the offer because it appears state law won't allow it to count toward the difference.

Though the library has found it tough to obtain adequate operational funds for years, the city's financial difficulties in 2003 were a low point the library has yet to recover from, Danihel said.

Supplemental funding requests must be submitted to the city by Monday, Edwards said.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber or 882-2111, ext. 215.


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