Basic Library service levels protected in 2004
City Librarian Deborah L. Jacobs announced today that basic Library services will be protected under Mayor Greg Nickels' proposed 2004 budget.
The recommended $34 million in funding for Library operations in 2004 would keep high quality basic services at their present level. "Our Library system is one of the most vital, well-loved parts of city government and the mayor understands that," Jacobs said.
"And in this current economic downturn, our libraries are busier than ever. Our libraries are where people out of work can go to find job listings, or learn how to write resumes. Immigrants can attend English-language conversation classes. Students can find quiet, safe places to do homework."
Jacobs acknowledged that these are tough economic times and cuts are painful.
With city revenues continuing to slump because of lower sales and business tax collections, the city is facing an additional $24 million shortfall for the 2003-2004 biennium. As a result, Nickels asked all city departments to plan for further budget reductions.
The Library identified reductions of about 2.75 percent, or about $930,000 from the previously endorsed 2004 general fund budget. The Library will capture these savings through unanticipated delays in the opening of new and renovated facilities, a new print management system on public computers, and increases in Library fees and fines.
In addition, the Library will continue $4.3 million in cuts implemented during 2003, which included reducing operating hours, technology, programs and the collections budget, which has been reduced more than $1 million during the past two years.
The entire Library system also will shut down for a week in the spring when books and equipment move from the Temporary Central Library to the new Central Library at 1000 Fourth Ave. Library staff will not be paid or accrue vacation or retirement during the closure.
Jacobs is relieved for the people of Seattle that operating hours will not need to be reduced further. Jacobs emphasized that the Library continues to look for efficiencies in its operations and to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. "We launched a successful campaign to encourage patrons to switch to email for receiving Library notices, which has saved us thousands of dollars," she said. The new Central Library, she noted, will have many self-service features, which also will produce savings.
The Libraries for All building program, funded through a bond measure passed overwhelmingly by voters in 1998, is not affected by the city revenue shortfalls. The bond money for the construction of the new Central Library and more than two dozen branch projects cannot be used for Library operations.
Jacobs said the good news is that funds have been reserved for operations in the new, larger facilities when they open. The Rainier Beach and Beacon Hill branches, as well as the renovated Green Lake and West Seattle branches, are slated to open in the first part of 2004.
The mayor will present his 2004 budget proposal to the City Council at 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 29. The council is required to adopt a budget by Dec. 1.
For more information contact:
Andra Addison, communications director
< Back To Index