‘Status quo year’ ahead for county’s libraries

The local libraries are in decent shape, despite another drop in revenue this year, the head of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District told its Board of Trustees on Thursday night.

Jeanne Goodrich, the district’s executive director, told the Board that the general fund will remain essentially flat after several years of budget cuts.

“We have a year that’s less dramatic,” she said. “It’s basically a status quo year.”

The board unanimously adopted the $65 million budget, which was less than last year’s $66.5 million budget.

Trustee Randy Ence noted that other local government agencies have been cutting budgets and issuing layoff notices lately. This week, the city of North Las Vegas and the Clark County School District adopted budgets that include massive cuts and layoffs.

“I think they would be thrilled to say, ‘Hey, we can balance the budget,’ ” Ence said. “There’s not too many entities that can do that.”

The move comes two years after the district had to eliminate nearly 100 jobs and cut the hours at most libraries because of falling tax revenue. Employees agreed to forgo raises to avoid more job cuts.

About 63 percent of the district’s revenue comes from property taxes, 28 percent from sales tax and the rest comes from a combination of fees, fines and grants.

There will be no layoffs this year, Good­rich said. She said staffing levels will remain the same, as will library hours.

Of the total $65 million budget, 80 percent goes into the general fund, with the rest primarily going toward capital projects and debt service.

The general fund pays for everything from new books and magazines to administrator salaries.

Goodrich said the materials fund, which represents about 15 percent of the overall general fund, will remain about the same. The only significant change will be that the budget for electronic books will double to $740,000, about a third of the print materials budget.

She said the electronic books segment is a small one within the district, but it is the fastest growing.

Despite the relatively good news, Good­rich and Chief Financial Officer Fred James noted that because of the property tax cap, revenues won’t increase nearly as quickly as they decreased. District officials will have to be careful with any spending increases, no matter how quickly or robustly the economy recovers, if it does.

Trustee Michael Saunders noted that the state recently regained its status as the nation’s leader in foreclosures.

“We’re still not out of these very uncertain economic times,” he said.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at
rlake@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307.

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