CARLISLE — The Cumberland County Library System received permission Monday to use $400,000 from its strategic reserve fund to cover operating expenses in 2014.
The fund — established in 2004 as a safety net to secure library services during a decade of state cuts — will drop to $1.5 million as library officials begin evaluating which services will have to go in 2015.
Library system Executive Director Jonelle Darr said Thursday the request for the 2014 budget will help libraries “tread water” until then, maintaining services as is for another year.
For Commissioner Jim Hertzler, the system’s decision to lean on the reserve fund lessens the blow of the county’s refusal to increase the library tax by 3 percent in 2014.
“With this transfer from the strategic development fund at this point, the need for this tax increase is not necessary,” he said Monday. “The request is $100,000 more than what would have been generated from the tax increase.”
Hertzler pushed for more state support for county libraries, rather than increasing taxpayer contributions, which already fund nearly 75 percent of the system.
Commissioner Chairwoman Barb Cross said the county should discuss implementing “modest” user fees for convenience services, such as e-books.
“The funding streams aren’t there for the technology people expect to be in the library,” she said.
Commissioner Gary Eichelberger said he didn’t disagree with his colleagues, but insisted the board lead the discussion with library officials on what funding expectations can be in the future — whether that include a library tax increase or not.
“I would not want to us drop the issue since the budget is resolved,” he said.