Carnegie Library administrators explore 5-year plan with no drastic cuts
By Bill Vidonic
Published: Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, 7:54 p.m.
As publicly funded institutions across the country struggle with budget cuts, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh — no stranger to financial turmoil — is about to adopt a five-year financial and development plan that contains no drastic cuts.
Carnegie President and Director Mary Frances Cooper said Saturday that she doesn't expect major cuts or changes with the 2013 budget.
“We are always very careful and prudent,” Cooper said after about 25 people attended a presentation on the plan at the library system's East Liberty branch. “We're working hard to keep costs in line.”
The report, generated after community meetings, contains plenty of ideas but is short on specifics for the 19-branch system that employs nearly 500 full- and part-time workers.
The report recommends implementing a corporate-giving strategy, starting an endowment campaign and other fundraising efforts. Library board President Louis Testoni said Friday that he couldn't talk about an endowment campaign yet, but said, “It will be something (the library system) will be working on more robustly” once the five-year plan is implemented.
“We're always looking to expand the diversity of our funding,” Testoni said.
In 2009, in light of state funding budget cuts, the board began offering employees early retirement, freezing salaries and hiring, and cutting hours at branches, though it scrapped plans to close several branches when the city provided emergency funding. Cooper said some employees took the retirement package, but said on Saturday that he doesn't know the number.
Jake Haulk, president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, said Saturday that increased funding isn't the answer and that the board should look at a reorganization of the system.
“I'm not sure they've addressed their underlying problem of having too many libraries,” Haulk said. “If people are not going to the library, then maybe they need to eliminate so many full-service branches.”
Most of the new plan, Testoni and Cooper said, lacks specifics because the ideas had to come first.
“We're making sure we are directionally in the right area before we fill in the rest — the goals and places we know where we can get revenues and partnerships,” Testoni said.
There will be a link Monday on the library's website — carnegielibrary.org — to allow final comment on the plan. Testoni said the board will vote on the plan in October.
Under the plan, the library system would implement recommendations from a 2011 Public Private Task Force on Sustainable Funding, including developing tax-incentive programs for corporate and individual donors and finding new funding sources.
Cooper said preliminary numbers for Allegheny Regional Asset District funding should be available later this month, with final approval in November. After that, the library board can vote on a final 2013 budget in December. The general operating budget this year is $27.8 million.
For 2013, the library is asking for $22.3 million in RAD money, or about a 5 percent increase over 2012's funding. The library faces flat state funding at about $3 million, Cooper added.
In November 2011, Pittsburgh residents approved a referendum that levied a 0.25-mill property tax that was expected to generate more than $3 million each year for the library. Cooper said the library has received about 94 percent of that tax money budgeted for 2012.
The money was used to keep libraries open all weekdays and after school, Cooper said, and it also will help with building improvements. Once improvements are completed, Cooper said, that money eventually will go toward the system's general fund.
“We're being very careful with money to make sure we don't overspend, or add costs that'll add layers to additional costs in the future,” Testoni said.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Pens sticking to power-play plan
- Penguins’ Bylsma wants Cup version of Letang
- Mazda recalls 109,000 older SUVs
- Orpik: Penguins must keep their cool
- Steel Valley volleyball rekindling program’s glory days
- Mt. Pleasant’s Donitzen’s high jump prowess could be college ticket
- Pirates trade for Mets first baseman Davis
- WVU-bound Highlands gymnast picks prom over national championships
- RiverQuest short of money, looks for a partner
- ‘Cross on the Hill’ a special sight for residents
- Knife incident on bus gives Connellsville Area School District pause