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Portland Public Library faces budget gap

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Portland Public Library faces budget gap

PORTLAND — In an attempt to keep services and staff at existing levels, the public library is requesting an approximate $118,000 increase in funding from the city.
The Portland Public Library is proposing an overall $3.8 million budget for fiscal year 2010, 2.6 percent larger than the current budget. The city is being asked to contribute $3.2 million.
Library Executive Director Steve Podgajny said the city's contribution, 3.8 percent more than this year's city funding, would allow the library to keep current hours at the main library and branch libraries, while maintaining current staff levels.
However, Podgajny acknowledged on Monday that he had just learned that City Manager Joe Gray would recommend flat funding for the library for fiscal year 2010.
"So now it looks like we will have a gap," said Podgajny. "We have to look at all the options."
The library received about $3.1 million in funding from the city last year, including a last -minute addition of $30,000 to keep open the Reiche Library branch. That $30,000 came from the city's contingency fund.
If flat-funded for next year, the library faces a shortfall of about $110,000, Podgajny said. 

"We'll go through the options this month," he said. When asked whether eliminating branch libraries is a possibility, Podgajny said library administrators would have to "look at everything."
"We of course will take into account input from the neighborhood meetings we held," he said.
The library is scheduled to go before the city Finance Committee March 26 to discuss its proposed budget.
Although the main branch of the library at Monument Square is about to undergo major renovations that will close a majority of the building for about 10 months, Podgajny said staff levels will be maintained because there will be increased need for retrieving books from a temporary warehouse space and delivering them to branch libraries for pick-up. Podgajny said some staff may also be reassigned to branch libraries if the main library closure causes a surge in visitors at the branches.
The library lost about $117,000 in its endowment this year because of the poor state of the stock market, he said. Room rental revenue is gone, too, because of the renovations, and employee and vendor contracts have increases built in.
"Our focus is to maintain the schedule we currently have," Podgajny said. "The budget is in line with what we told people we would be doing."

Gray is expected to release his proposed budget for the city at the end of March, according to City Hall spokeswoman Nicole Clegg.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net.

 

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