Library paying off mortgage
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Monday, 25 November 2013 10:44
Money issues - including mortgages and employee pay raises - dominated the meeting of the Wood County District Public Library's Board of Trustees.
For the first time since the current building at 251 N. Main St. was built in 1974, the library is going to be without a mortgage hanging over its head, starting early in the new year.
The board approved making a single $98,000 mortgage payment in January "which will remove the last of the mortgage from the books," said library Director Michael Penrod in recommending the action.
The library had a mortgage to pay for the 1974 building and then another to cover costs of the major renovation and expansion in 2003.
Early pay-off of the mortgage is saving $190,000 in interest, Penrod said, and is also allowing $800,000 in payments to be removed from the budget over the next 10 years.
The board also accepted Penrod's recommendation of a 3-percent increase in library staff salaries for 2014. The money, in the form of a salary pool of $27,000, will be distributed among 34 positions based on merit.
The action serves, in part, to help make up for recent lean years of multiple pay cuts.
Penrod offered the illustration of an employee making $8.16 per hour in 2008 who, after reductions from 2009-2011, will now make $8.34 per hour in 2014.
From 2007 to 2014, while the state's minimum wage has increased 16.06 percent, he said, WCDPL wages have increased only 4.25 percent.
Employee health insurance premiums will see a 17-percent increase in the coming year, with the employees' self-pay share of insurance costs remaining at 22.1 percent.
Board President Brian Paskvan stated the library only faced a 4-percent increase in health insurance premiums in 2011. "They've been averaging only 5 percent in recent years, so it was our turn" to see a bigger increase.
A projected budget for 2014 was approved during the meeting. It will be $400,000 less than 2013.
WCDPL projects income of $2,400,000 and expenses of $2,377,430 for the year.
Personnel costs are 55 percent of the total budget, Penrod said.
"Next year, from the state, we will get the equivalent of what we got in 1996," he added. It amounts to only 51 percent of the total budget. The county's library levy currently covers 43 percent, with 3.57 percent from gifts from the library foundation and other donations, and 2 percent from fines, fees and contracts.
At last month's meeting, the board heard a detailed report on the difficulty public libraries are facing getting access to new books in e-book format.
This month, the board voted to approve a resolution urging Ohio members of Congress to seek a legislative solution to the growing problem.
"Some major publishers refuse to sell e-books to public libraries, thus denying access to popular information," the resolution points out.
At that same time, e-books are rapidly growing in demand with Wood County patrons. E-book usage increases of 149 percent in 2011, 155 percent in 2012, and 128 percent so far in 2013, have been noted.
Also on the subject of technology, the board approved installation of a fiber connection from the Walbridge branch building to the main library in Wood County. This will allow the Walbridge library to have the same high-speed Internet service as the rest of the system.
Michele Raine offered a report on adult services. She noted that as of last week, "59 people have attended our novel-writing series. It's been wildly successful so far." The final weekly session in the series will be Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Carter House on North Church Street, behind the library.
In other business, the library board:
• Voted to follow the county's schedule for holiday closings in 2014. For the remainder of this year, the Bowling Green library, Walbridge branch and the Bookmobile will be closed on Thanksgiving, Dec. 24, Dec. 25 and New Year's Day. All three locations will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, and again on Dec. 31.
• Agreed to institute a fines-free holiday for Dec. 1-15. Patrons may take care of overdue fines by bringing in food donations instead.