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Because circulation numbers for York County residents decreased over the past year, Williamsburg Regional Library will be relying on the City of Williamsburg and James City County to cover the nearly $110,000 increase in library expenses expected next year.
Genevieve Owens, director of WRL, presented the library’s proposed budget for fiscal 2017, which begins July 1, at the Williamsburg City Council meeting on Thursday, asking the city to increase its contribution to the library by 2.03 percent over last year toward the library’s $6,402,063 budget total.
If City Council fulfills the request, the city would transfer $858,196 to WRL – an increase of $17,036 compared to last year. The amount for the transfer will be approved with the city’s budget, slated for adoption in May.
The library is also requesting an increased contribution – 2.56 percent, or $113,003 more than last year, for a total of $4,529,096 – from James City County; York County’s requested contribution dips by about 3.26 percent because circulation numbers for York County residents has decreased by about a half a percent.
The breakdown for contribution totals among the three localities follows a funding formula outlined in the latest iteration of the regional contract.
Owens said she is unsure what has contributed to the drop in usage by York County residents, though she said the library is unable to determine whether York County users are relying more heavily on the electronic offerings.
“In electronic circulation, unfortunately, we cannot track by the borrower’s jurisdiction at this time,” Owens said. “We are something of an anomaly in the way we fund our library based on those circulation percentages, and therefore the vendors that we have to rely on for those electronic titles aren’t able to parse out the data the way we’re able to parse out the data on hard copy materials.”
With most WRL personnel employed by James City County, the budget proposal will adjust once the county makes a decision regarding any compensation changes for its staff.
The additional money from both James City County and the City of Williamsburg would give WRL $110,607 – or $1,470 more than the predicted expense increase – to make up for an expected dip in revenue as lost and overdue book fees continue to drop because of an increased usage – 22 percent – of ebooks and other digital collections.
The predicted $109,137 increase in expenses is largely because of a rise in health insurance costs, contractual services, library programs and advertising, which are expected to amount to about $59,397, $26,000, $11,500 and $7,500 more than fiscal 2016, respectively.
Owens said the library has included a strengthened focus on programming – the Stryker Center opened this month, which allows the library more space for more programs – and advertising to communicate the library’s offerings to the public as part of its updated strategic plan for the next three years.
“We are very aware of the outstanding support that we receive from our local governments as well as our residents for the Williamsburg Regional Library, and we very much want to continue to honor that support with excellent collections, programs, services and facilities for all the residents of greater Williamsburg,” Owens said.