Final bit of business from this evening’s Orange County Board of Commissioner’s meeting.
A couple weeks ago, members of the Council, Commissioners, our Town and County managers, met to discuss increasing the County’s financial contribution to Chapel Hill’s Library.
As of today, the County’s current yearly $250K contribution is out-of-line with out-of-town usage. In effect, Chapel Hill subsidizes, and has subsidized by as much as $6M over the last decade, County residents use of our facilities.
If Chapel Hill elects to expand the Library (which it seems at this point Council will do irrespective of fiscal prudence), that subsidy will swell.
Now, it isn’t the County’s fault that Chapel Hill’s Council wants to take on another $1.3M in yearly operational costs (and another $2.3M in yearly bond payments) during the worse economic downturn since the Great Depression but they did commit to answering Council’s pleas for more bucks.
Tonight the County Manager proposed [PDF] to raise the contribution to $500,000 or %50 of Hillsborough’s main library budget (which services Hillsborough and beyond). The increase to $500,000 would be graduated over time and level out.
This is below the initial $700K figure thrown out a few weeks ago and well below the $1.1 million ( of an eventual $2 million OC library services budget) Chapel Hill calculates as the County’s “fair share” of support necessary after the expansion.
FYI, Orange County’s current library services budget – which was reduced by $162,000 in all areas EXCEPT for Chapel Hill’s $250,000 stipend – is now down to $1.2 million.
In other words, while the County’s budget for services outside of Chapel Hill dropped %11.7, Chapel Hill’s, as a percentage of the available funds, increased from %18.1 to %20 – a rare increase in this year’s County budget [PDF].
Below are my notes from this evening’s discussion (video here eventually):
Note: Southwest branch refers to a proposed new facility serving Carrboro and points west. Barry Jacobs suggested opening branch at the County’s Skill Development Center on West Franklin St.