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Proposed Ogdensburg library budget faces cuts

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The proposed 2013 budget for Ogdensburg Public Library has its executive director concerned.

The $19.6 million spending plan unveiled last week by City Manager John M. Pinkerton calls for a $605,995 budget for the library. That is not only $59,013 less than the $666,018 that Executive Director Wayne L. Miller asked for, but also a decrease of $1,129 from this year’s $608,214 budget.

The biggest piece of the decrease is the zero capital construction line item. Mr. Miller asked for $52,710 to match a state grant already approved for window replacement and rehabilitation. Instead of directly funding the project, the city will be asked to borrow that amount through a bond.

The other significant decrease is in money for books. Mr. Miller requested $35,000. The proposed 2013 budget recommends $30,911.

Mr. Miller is hoping for the best at a time when making do with less is budgetary standard operating procedure.

“I continue to be worried about our budget,” he said. “The city’s allocation constitutes a majority of our funding, so that is, of course, of great concern.”

And the library’s fiscal worries, Mr. Miller added, extend beyond City Hall.

“I’m also very concerned about the (St. Lawrence) county’s budget, that at the moment has zeroed out all 19 of the county’s public libraries,” he said, referring to the $11,502 in county funds that he had penciled into next year’s budget.

“Previous cuts to both the county and state funds for libraries have already had a marked affect on our services including how many hours we are open and how many books, magazines, and newspapers we can buy,” Mr. Miller said. “At the same time as we are trying to meet growing demands for eBooks and other digital services, the demand for traditional services remains strong. Government funding for materials continues to shrink.”

The average cost of a hardcover book, according to Mr. Miller, is more than $20. DVDs cost about $20 each. Also, audio books, eBooks, and magazine subscription are about $50 apiece.

Mr. Miller sees nothing getting less expensive.

“The cost of materials continues to rise faster that the overall inflation rate while our materials budget continues to shrink,” Mr. Miller said.

Mr. Miller hopes the city council approves the bond, which may be packaged with between $280,000 and $300,000 for a pumper truck for the fire department and $122,000 for the parks and recreation department to buy a Zamboni ice maintenance vehicle for the rink at the Richard G. Lockwood Civic Center.

“Lack of a bond issue to fund the windows will be a problem,” he said . “In applying the

the matching grant for the window project, the library promised to complete certain work. That is a legal obligation. We have until the end of June 2013 to complete the work, but can apply for a one-year extension.”

The library and its board, Mr. Miller said, are always looking for grants.

“The board and I will continue to work on this until it is solved,” he said. “Of course, I will continue to apply for grants to fund this and other aspects of both fixing the aging infrastructure of our historic building and improving our services.”

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