For the first time since 2004 the Salt Lake City Public Library is proposing a budget that will require a revenue increase for operational funding. In the spirit of the Library's commitment to transparency, a cornerstone of The City Library's values, we have created this page of Frequently Asked Questions to help you understand the factors contributing to the requested increase for additional revenue.
WHAT IS THE TOTAL BUDGET REQUEST?
The Library's budget is $22.4 million for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18), which is a 23.3% increase over our current fiscal year budget of $18.1 million.
HOW WILL THIS IMPACT MY TAXES?
If the budget is approved, it will require approximately $3.9 million in new property tax revenue. The incremental cost to the owner of a median-priced home ($247,000) is estimated to be $20 per year—less than 50 cents per week. This is a 21.1% increase over current property tax. The following chart shows the property tax amount as it relates to a residential property valued at $247,000 and commercial property valued at $1,000,000.
WHY IS THE LIBRARY ASKING FOR ADDITIONAL REVENUE?
There are three major reasons why The City Library is requesting an increase in tax revenue this year.
1. To fully fund the operation of The City Library's Glendale and Marmalade branches. The two new branches increased the total Library system from six locations to eight locations, effectively growing the system by 33%. The Glendale and Marmalade branches opened in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and have operated for their first years using funds saved from previous years. This allowed the Library to understand the full budgetary needs of operating these new and highly-utilized facilities before asking for additional funds to operating them in an ongoing basis. The FY18 Budget includes roughly $1.5 million for the ongoing operating costs associated with these new locations.
2. To provide good stewardship of the Library's facilities. We are taking a fiscally responsible approach to protecting the community's investment in our library buildings by creating a designated fund ($1.5 million) for the long-term maintenance of our eight facilities and technology infrastructure. These funds will only be used for long-term maintenance of our buildings and technology.
3. To ensure a safe, clean, and welcoming environment for all. We will also invest more in custodial, maintenance, and security staff across the system to promote safe and clean environments for all to enjoy. Additionally, during FY18, the Library will execute a Facilities Condition Assessment to ensure we correctly anticipate future maintenance needs and a Staff Utilization Study to ensure the Library's facilities have the appropriate amount of staff to meet the community's needs.
IF THE LIBRARY IS SETTING ASIDE $1.5 MILLION A YEAR FOR LONG-TERM MAINTENANCE AND TECHNOLOGY PROJECTS, WHAT WILL PREVENT THE LIBRARY FROM SPENDING THE MONEY ON OTHER PRIORITIES?
The Library Board will adopt a policy that will limit the use of these funds to address long-term maintenance costs of our buildings and technology infrastructure. This policy will restrict the funds from being used for other reasons (like staffing, materials, or programs) so that the money is available for significant maintenance projects, such as upgrading public access computers or replacing HVAC and other critical building needs.
I'VE READ THAT A SPACE UTILIZATION STUDY WAS CONDUCTED ON THE CHAPMAN, DAY-RIVERSIDE, AND SPRAGUE BRANCHES. WILL THE NEW REVENUE BE UTILIZED TO RENOVATE THESE BRANCHES AND IMPLEMENT THE RESULTS OF THE STUDY?
No. The Library is waiting on final recommendations from the study. The proposed budget carries forward some savings to help fund pending recommendations, but none of the new requested revenue is budgeted to fund recommendations from the study.
I HEARD THE LIBRARY WILL STOP CHARGING OVERDUE FINES. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
The proposed FY18 Budget has been developed with the expectation that the Library Board will pass a policy that eliminates overdue fines for materials. Items that are lost, damaged, or several weeks overdue would still be charged a replacement fee. This proposal is based in the Library's values and mission of providing equitable access to information for all members of our community.
Research, and the experience of libraries that have eliminated fines, indicate that overdue fines disproportionately affect children and members of our community with the least financial resources, hitting hardest those who need the Library's services the most. The threat of accumulating fines also creates an inequitable barrier for many people who choose not to utilize our services rather than risk collecting overdue fines. By removing overdue fines, more people will utilize Library collections and services, increasing the community's return on its investment in The City Library. Additionally, enforcing fines is the most negative encounter Library patrons have with our staff—removing overdue fines would allow for more staff energy to be spent delivering high-quality Library service rather than collecting fines.
For these reasons, libraries across the country are eliminating collecting overdue fines. And libraries who have adopted this policy have seen little to no reduction in patrons returning materials on time—receiving a reminder on text or email that the materials are due back has proven as effective as charging a financial penalty. Patrons will still be held responsible for the return of items, and will be charged for the cost of lost materials.
We expect adopting this policy will also reduce the costs associated with collecting fines. Maintaining the systems to track and collect overdue fines is costly, and the revenue generated by overdue fines is a small part of our overall budget, is difficult to accurately anticipate, and has been decreasing over time. In FY17, we anticipate collecting $165,000 in overdue fines, less than 1% of our total revenue. The amount of revenue gained through overdue fines will continue declining naturally as the checkout of physical materials continues to decline while the checkout of eBooks and other electronic materials (which do not accumulate overdue fines) continues to increase.
CAN SOMEONE COME TALK TO MY COMMUNITY GROUP ABOUT THE LIBRARY'S FY18 BUDGET?
The City Library's Executive Director, Peter Bromberg, or another leader in the organization would be happy to visit your community group to provide more information about The City Library's proposed FY18 Budget. To request a visit, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 801-524-8205.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
The Library's full FY18 Budget is available for review online by clicking here.
HOW CAN I SHARE MY OPINIONS ABOUT THE LIBRARY'S FY18 BUDGET?
You may share your opinions with The City Library Board and Executive Leadership Team by filling out our Comment Form. Comments will be heard at the Salt Lake City Council meetings on May 16, May 23, and June 6. Please visit the City Council's Meeting Agendas webpage for more information. Should the City Council approve this budget, a Truth in Taxation hearing would be scheduled for August.