Dear Hanson residents,
As was discussed at the April 6th Selectmen’s meeting, Hanson is facing cuts for FY22 that would affect all town departments if an override does not pass. I’d like to take this opportunity to explain what these cuts would mean for library services.
The proposed reduction to the library’s budget is $23,500. This would result in a $19,740 cut to our salaries line and a $3,760 cut to our expenses line. There is very little room to reduce our expenses without affecting fixed and required costs such as utilities, library network membership and unexpected building repairs, so the main impact would be to our staffing levels.
The loss of $19,740 from salaries would see four part-time positions lose 12 hours, resulting in:
- an 11% reduction in circulation staff hours for coverage at the front desk
- an 11% reduction in cataloging staff hours to process new materials
- a 20% reduction in technical services staff hours for technology management
A reduction in coverage at the front desk would impact all staff. Staff who provide children’s services, technology assistance, and library programming would need to spend additional time away from their departments to assist with circulation duties. It is also important for residents to realize that library staff are already spread very thin. The library is still short 15 staff hours that have not been restored from cuts back in 2010. However, we are serving more residents now than we did at that time, and the range of library services that patrons have come to rely on has increased.
Due to these facts, any loss of staffing hours from our current levels would result in a reduction in operating hours. It is likely that, at a minimum, we would be forced to close the library on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1:00 pm instead of 3:00 pm, a reduction of 4 hours per week. Our ability to call in additional staff to cover for another staff member who is sick or on vacation would also be impacted, generating more occasions with reduced staffing levels during which we could not provide our full range of services to patrons.
The other point to consider with reductions to the library’s budget is our ability to meet the requirements for State Aid to Public Libraries, a program administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) that distributes local aid to municipalities for library services. Through this program, the Hanson Public Library typically receives $14,000 to $18,000 each year in addition to our municipal funds.
The importance of the Hanson Public Library’s participation in this program cannot be overemphasized since many of the services we provide are not budgeted through the town and are instead made possible with state aid funds. The primary example is library programming, especially children’s programs and our annual summer reading program.
In order for us to be certified for state aid, the following conditions must be met:
- Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR)
- Hanson’s FY22 MAR is $453,006. The town must appropriate at least this amount for the library for FY22, otherwise we would need to apply for a waiver.
- Minimum Hours Open Requirement
- Based on Hanson’s population, we must be open a minimum of 40 hours per week.
- Materials Expenditure Requirement
- Based on Hanson’s population, the library is required to spend at least 16% of its total municipal appropriation amount on materials.
A cut of $23,500 would bring the library’s municipal appropriation down to $446,610, which falls short of our FY22 Municipal Appropriation Requirement. In this case, the library would need to apply for a waiver. Waiver approval is not guaranteed, especially if the MBLC determines that the cut to the library was disproportionate to other cuts in the town.
If the library is decertified and loses its state aid funds, the following would occur:
- Reciprocal borrowing with other libraries would cease. Hanson residents would not be able to borrow materials from other libraries and would be limited to the collection that currently exists at the Hanson Public Library.
- The number of programs offered would drop dramatically, particularly those for children and young adults.
- We would not have enough funds to purchase essential supplies, products, and services (e.g. online calendar system, technology equipment, new book processing supplies, office supplies). Costs for such items typically come from a combination of municipal and state aid funds, and without state aid, the municipal amount budgeted for these items would not be sufficient. Our only course of action would be to use funds originally budgeted for materials such as books, movies, eBooks, museum passes, and online databases. Not only would there be fewer new materials for patrons to enjoy, but we would likely not meet our materials expenditure requirement, jeopardizing our ability to qualify for state aid in the FY23 application cycle.
I hope this message has been informative regarding the potential impact that FY22 budget cuts would have on library services. We are extremely appreciative of the wonderful support we receive from the community and always strive to provide a high level of customer service, no matter what our circumstances.
If you have any questions or concerns, you may contact me at 781-293-2151 or email@example.com.