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Towns brace for reduction in funding to Gulf Beaches Public Library

MADEIRA BEACH — Even though the Gulf Beaches Public Library has lots of money in the bank, member towns could face increasing contributions soon.

Library director Maggie Cinnella warned Library Board members Monday that if the Legislature sharply cuts state support as planned, nearly half of the local library's revenues could be in danger.

The state provides more than $21 million to support libraries throughout the state. Pinellas County's share of that money is distributed to local libraries by the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative.

The Legislature is considering cutting next year's funding to a mere $1 million statewide.

"This devastating action will result in some Florida library branches closing and will seriously cripple libraries' ability to serve Floridians," the Florida Library Association said in a recent statement.

Cinnella asked the library's member towns (Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, Redington Beach, North Redington Beach and Redington Shores) to urge state legislators to fund libraries fully.

"This would be a terrible, terrible thing to happen," Cinnella told the Library Board.

The Madeira Beach library's budget is financed through two main sources — contributions from the five towns and a PPLC match.

This fiscal year, the towns will contribute $180,000 toward library operations. The PPLC is contributing about $186,000, Cinnella said.

The PPLC contribution to local libraries is based on a complicated formula that considers county, state and federal revenues, the populations served by each local library, and the amount of money each library raises from the municipalities it serves.

Treasure Island currently contributes the most: $77,419. Other town contributions vary according to population: Madeira Beach, $46,114; Redington Beach, $16,273; North Redington Beach, $15,327; and Redington Shores, $24,865.

The balance of the library's $437,683 total budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year is funded through fines and operational revenues, donations, and $58,000 from library reserves.

Ironically, the reserves were created by the library's previous director, Jan Horah, who was subsequently fired and then won a $20,000 legal settlement from the library.

Further complicating the Madeira Beach library's future finances is the decision made last year to dip into reserves so that member towns could reduce their contributions.

Those reserves now stand at about $335,000 and are restricted to operational uses.

Once the reserves are gone, the Library Board will have to persuade its member towns to increase annual contributions or the library will be forced to cut services.

Towns brace for reduction in funding to Gulf Beaches Public Library 03/23/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 5:01pm]
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