Library board sets $1.7 million budget

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

The Newton County Library Board of Trustees set a budget of $1,745,829.36 for fiscal year 2012 during its Thursday morning meeting.

The budget is roughly $240,000 less than last year, taking into account cuts from the state and county. New Director Lace Keaton said she does not yet know how the budget cuts will impact services or staff.

"We're still working through the numbers," Keaton said.

Keaton said that as a newcomer who arrived in June, she is still getting the lay of the land. Complicating matters is the fact that the library's chief financial officer, Carolee McKay, retired in mid-July and shortly after suffered a fatal heart attack, as the library was still in the process of finishing fiscal year 2011. McKay was providing guidance and answering questions up until her death.

The budget for the Covington branch is $1,364,850.41, while the Porter Memorial branch budget is $380,978.95. The Porter branch operated on $300,000 for the six months it was open during fiscal year 2011. Now the branch will have to survive an entire fiscal year on just $81,000 more. Library board members indicated they will start fundraising efforts soon.

The library is currently conducting a survey of patrons to determine how and why they use the library, as well as the days that get the most use and the demographics of patrons.

"This will also help us if we need to cut hours, if we need to cut services," said Board of Trustees Member Betty Bledsoe.