Library asks city council to help keep it open & staffed

By Gary Brode |, Erica Quednau |

Published 02/25 2014 04:59PM

Updated 02/26 2014 11:20AM

Latest: 10:01 pm
CHAMPAIGN -- The Champaign Public Library didn't get the money it wanted from the city. The city council voted Tuesday to give the library a one-time payment of about $300,000.

The library board was asking for about $300,00 a year to help pay expenses. Earlier, library officials said if there was no extra funding, cuts may have to be made. Last year, the city gave the library a one-time payment of $500,000.
Update: 6:04 pm
CHAMPAIGN -- Budget concerns at the Champaign Public Library could force cuts to hours and staff unless the city council steps in to help. Tuesday night, the board will discuss giving the library thousands of dollars.

The library board is hoping the city will pay for $300,000 a year for this building. It's money that, if approved, could come out of taxpayers' pockets, or it could come from the quarter-cent sales tax.

Mayor Don Gerard says there is some money left over in that fund which they could spend on the library, but it would take away from other departments, like police or public works. Right now, Mayor Gerard says the library is already one of the entities which gets the most taxpayer money.

Last year, the city gave CPL a one-time payment of $500,000. Gerard hoped it would give it incentive to look for money in other places like fundraising.

The study session is Tuesday night. Gerard says city council members are all over the board on the issue. If the library's plan is not approved, it could mean cuts to staff or hours.
Original: 5:00 pm
CHAMPAIGN -- It's an experience this dad and son do a few times a month, but budget concerns could cut back their time together at the library. The Champaign Public Library is talking about cutting hours and staff. That is unless the city council can pitch in some extra cash. WCIA-3's Erica Quednau finds out what's next.

Last year the city council gave the library a one-time payment of $500,000 to help offset some costs. This time around, leaders are asking for a yearly payout of about $300,000 to help pay for using the building.

It's a tradition for this father and son; spending their time together at the library.

"I pick him up from school everyday and, typically, I try to find different things to do with him. Sometimes we like to come in and kind of talk and I think it's a real good way of kind of seeing what's going on in his life too, just walking around the library."

But, budget concerns could change the time Derrick Thompson, his son and you are able to use it.

"I think that would mean layoffs of staff and thus, if we cut more staff, we're going to have to cut hours because we're very thin."

Marsha Grove is the director of CPL. She says they've been having budget problems for about five years.

"What happened is property values have been very flat or declining."

92% of its budget comes from property taxes. That's why they're representing a plan to city council members.

"We're back again this year. We're asking for the council to pay the debt services of $277,000 per year and that would eliminate the need to layoff staff and it would preserve our hours for our two library locations."

If accepted, it would keep lights on here, but could make you dig deeper into your pockets to help pay for it.

"They're kind of at a standstill, which is, 'just give us more money' and we need to come to some point, how much can we put the burden on the taxpayers?"

"If I had to pay a little more to make my community better, I definitely would be for that."

The city council will hear the library's budget plan during a study session Tuesday night. Both boards will be able to throw around ideas. If city council says no to the library's plan, Grove says they'll look into cutting hours and staff.

The library has made some changes the past five years to try to make ends meet. It's increased fees to offset some costs, including copying, printing, DVD rentals and overdue items. The fee hike brought in more than $360,000.

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