SHERIDAN — As fiscal year 2019 draws to a close, the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library has begun drafting its budget for the coming fiscal year.
Library Director Cameron Duff said it is too early to say for certain what the library’s budget will be, but he and the Library Board of Trustees need to draft a budget based on conservative projections.
The library’s total budget in fiscal year 2019 was $1,450,000 and Duff said he told the Library Board of Trustees that budget has the potential to drop by about $50,000 in the coming fiscal year.
The library trustees need to approve a draft budget at their next meeting later this month, and that budget will be presented to the Sheridan County Commissioners in early April. The county, and library budget, will be finalized in late June.
That loss is only a potential loss, Duff stressed, based on projections of the library’s three primary revenue streams for the coming year.
One of those revenue streams is a library endowment, which has been invested in the stock market. Because of market fluctuations, the revenues from that endowment have dropped slightly.
“Based off of the stock market, and the end of 2018, the market performance was down so therefore your potential to pull monies from that could be less,” Duff said. “We have to wait until June to find out what the actual numbers are.”
The library also pulls in revenue through fundraising. Duff said the Friends of the Library, a group that works to raise funds for Fulmer throughout the year, also saw a dip in revenues last year, which needs to be taken into account when considering the coming year’s budget.
The third piece of the library’s revenue is cash reserves that carry over from the previous fiscal year, which Duff said also have the potential to be down.
“Our budget was set up to dip into those reserves,” Duff said.
Based on those three revenue streams, Duff said the library could potentially face a $50,000 reduction in its budget. That potential may not be realized, but Duff said the library needs to approach its budget conservatively — it’s better to have more revenue than expected than unplanned expenses.
The Library Trustees will consider how they can increase revenue at their March meeting, as well as areas where they can cut expenses. Duff said the Trustees will also consider asking the county for more money, though he added that asking the county for a larger contribution would be the library’s last resort, as the county’s contribution has remained relatively static in recent years. Duff said the library made cuts about five years ago by choosing not to fill positions vacated by retiring staff members and closing the library on Sundays. Right now, Duff said the library is in a hiring freeze, which means the library board needs to approve filling any position left open by retiring staff and may decide to reduce the hours, and thus the salary, of that position.
“We’re conscious that we don’t have an infinite amount of money to spend and right now staffing is our biggest line item,” Duff said.
If the projected losses do come to fruition, Duff said the library could likely accommodate them without impacting its patrons.
“Nothing is off of the table, but I don’t think the trustees really want to go down the path of drastic cuts to services where the public is unable to use library resources,” Duff said. “That I don’t even want to fathom at this point — it’s going to be minor things here or there.”
The Library Board of Trustees’ next meeting is March 20.