Cumberland County Library System eyes reserve fund to cover 2014 expenses

CARLISLE — Cumberland County Library System Executive Director Jonelle Darr said Thursday’s request to transfer $400,000 from the reserve fund “is just to say afloat.”


Darr requested permission from commissioners to draw on its nearly $2 million contingency fund, which was established in 2004 as a way to sustain the library system over the next decade.


The amount is 29 percent higher than last year’s approved request, even though the budget is 2 percent smaller than last year, Darr said.


“I’m concerned that the gap is widening between what our revenue is and what our expenses are,” she said.


The request comes two weeks after Darr and other library board members requested a 3 percent increase in the library real estate tax to offset state funding reductions of $2.1 million.


Commissioners denied that request, leaving the library system with an anticipated $100,000 operating deficit in 2014.


The new request, Darr says, will help sustain the system another year, while library officials consider what cuts will be made in 2015.


“The budget we put forward in 2014 is about treading water,” Darr said.


In the meantime, Darr says the library has employed “aggressive cost-saving measures,” including eliminating six positions, reducing operating hours, installing updated and more affordable technology and reducing library materials by 6 percent.


“One of the things that will become visible to people will be that we are upgrading our computer system that we are using for catalog,” she said.


Darr said the new self-check circulation kiosks also allow the libraries to function with less staff.


Overall, residents won’t feel the system’s dwindling reserves, for now.


“The amount of money we will be supporting local library services with won’t change,” she said. “It makes for an even tighter fiscal situation than what we had in 2013.”


Commissioner Gary Eichelberger said Thursday the commissioners’ refusal to consider the tax increase will “impact the system’s long-range planning and thus impact when service cuts would be made.”


Commissioners did not discuss the request at Thursday’s meeting, and commissioners Jim Hertzler and Barb Cross did not return requests for comment.


Commissioners will vote Monday on the library’s request.


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