Friday, September 25, 2020

Letters

To Honor Our Commitment

Prior to the public hearing of the proposed Madison town budget, I would like to provide perspective on the operating budget request for the renovated and expanded Scranton Library.

For historical context, the town’s contribution to the library’s operating budget from 2013 to 2018 remained unchanged at $1.261 million without adjustments for annual inflation. When the library moved to its temporary location during construction, the allocation for 2019 was reduced by $313,000 to reflect the smaller occupied space. The contribution remained at $948,000 for 2020 with the exception of a one-time appropriation of $150,000 in the fourth quarter to help the library prepare for its return to downtown.

Anticipating increased expenses associated with the enhanced building, the library formed an ad hoc committee to prepare the 2021 budget. The committee presented an operating budget requesting a $161,000 increase over the 2018 allocation (the library’s last full year downtown) for a total of $1.423 million. Salaries and benefits, including staff to address recommendations for public safety, accounted for the largest portion of this budget increase. Considering that the library building will double in square footage and the requested town contribution is below the 2013 inflation-adjusted amount, it was disappointing to learn that the request was denied and the allocation reduced by $175,000 to $1.248 million, less than the actual allocation in 2013.

Despite the funding limitation, reopening plans remain on schedule for July to honor our commitment to donors who contributed more than $3.75 million collectively and to respect Madison residents’ desire for a renovated and expanded library building.

During times of economic uncertainty, communities find solace in their libraries, where they can access valuable resources. Without exception, Scranton Library is prepared to welcome all residents of Madison, connecting them with information, education, and, more important, each other.

Nicole Wiles, President
Scranton Library Board of Trustees