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Alderman Calls for More Money, Hours at Lincoln Library

Updated: Thursday, February 13 2014, 03:40 PM CST
With just weeks until the new fiscal year city officials are combing through the budget. Meanwhile, some aldermen are asking for last minute changes, among them, more money for Springfield's public library.

"You know the library is really important to the community. When you consider that all of the branches, all the neighborhood branches are closed, so there's one library and it's the one that's downtown," Ward 2 Alderman Gail Simpson said.

The Lincoln Library usually opens at 10 in the morning and closes no later than 8 at night.

"We have individuals who are applying for positions. You cannot do paper applications anywhere. You have to apply online. Many people don't have computers to apply online they use the, they have to go to a library," Simpson said.

Simpson is pushing an extension of the Lincoln Library's hours but the library's director says they would need more staff in order to do that. The library's director told Simpson that ideally the library would need two more librarians, a library assistant and two more security guards.

"So I told her, you know, I can't promise all five but I could try to get you at least three," Simpson said.

But those positions would necessitate an added cost of $145,000. Tough sell, when you consider that the library is actually funded by the telecom tax.

"The problem is everybody's getting rid of landlines now and we're seeing that telecom tax start to diminish," Springfield Budget Director Bill McCarty said.

City officials already raised the telecom tax to 4 percent but that still hasn't paid the bills.

"Last year we came in $100,000 less than what the estimates were. This year we're getting close to $200,000 less than what the estimates are," McCarty said.

So the city has dipped into what's called the "corporate fund" to make up the difference.

"In doing that we're taking those resources away from other areas in needs of police, fire equipment, public works, infrastructure those types of things," McCarty said.

But Simpson says the library is just as important. And rather than single out a resource the city can deposit she's calling on McCarty to give aldermen some options.

Despite shrinking revenues for the Lincoln Library the city has managed to extend library hours. The library is now open on Sundays from April until October.

In order to extend library hours further city leaders only have a few weeks to act. There are only two more city council meetings before the budget must be in place. The new fiscal year starts March 1.
Alderman Calls for More Money, Hours at Lincoln Library

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