Library board members, director respond to Abraham letter
To the Editor,
Mr. David Abraham raised important questions regarding the TDL millage questions up for vote on May 7. His premise was that additional millage requested on the May 7 ballot for Tecumseh District Library is not necessary due to cash reserves of TDL.
A quick review of the website, www.vote4tdl.com, will explain steps the library has taken to live within the revenue available since the economic downturn in 2008. Some of those steps include reduction in staff, no wage increases, reduced materials budgets, and the elimination of a program budget. The TDL director has consistently maintained a conservative budget based on actual revenue through responsible management of public monies.
Tecumseh District Library is fortunate (as is this community) to have almost a million dollars in endowment or dedicated accounts, which were funded by generous donors whose intent was to provide supplemental funding – not general operating funds. Some of these funds are limited to spending only earnings or restricted in how they can be used. Earnings from the major endowment helped pay for needed capital improvements (such as a new heating/cooling system, roof, parking lot, and lighting) which the taxpayers would otherwise would have been asked to fund.
The $136,000 gain in TDL’s 2012 fund balance was a welcome reversal of the $285,520 loss in 2010 and the $150,965 loss in 2011. Mr. Abraham noted 1.2 million in cash and cash equivalents. That total includes the operating balance as of June 30, 2012 and the “emergency” fund. The entire winter tax collection is included which must be divided to cover the first half of the following fiscal year until winter taxes are collected again in December.
The Library Board was very careful in deciding to request the 0.2 increase, as well as the 1.15 renewal, knowing that people are struggling. The library has been a critical resource for everyone in need of technology—for creating resumes, job searching, applying for jobs or unemployment, or in need of assistance/lessons for using e/tools. Since July 2012, over 2000 patrons have received individual lessons from TDL staff in use of tablets, eReaders, computers, etc. Staff has been trained and continues to learn everyday on the latest technology. Today’s libraries are so much more than just books – staff assistance is often needed. Since 2003, library visits have almost doubled, computer usage has increased from 1502 users in 2003 to 29,904 last year, and staff assistance has increased from 2,054 to 9,432. This increased demand suggests people struggling in this economy have found value and savings at TDL. The money generated by the 0.2 increase (cost = less than $1.00/month for most taxpayers) would be put to immediate use in sustaining the service expected and needed by TDL patrons.
Tecumseh District Library’s Board and Director take very seriously the financial responsibility entrusted to them. They will continue to use taxpayers’ money responsibly, to provide needed library resources and service.