Library supporters ask board to fund request

FRONT ROYAL – Samuels Public Library supporters made another plea this week for additional money in next year’s Warren County budget.

The Board of Supervisors reached a consensus at a recent work session on the fiscal 2017 budget not to increase local contributions to outside agencies as some had requested. The library’s board asked for an additional $204,000 in local funding next year or an increase of roughly 2 percent over what the county allocated this cycle. County Administrator Douglas Stanley recommended increasing the library funding by $18,200.

Stanley advised supervisors earlier this month that they could close up a $3.8 million gap between the anticipated revenue and proposed expenses by increasing the real estate tax rate and making some cuts to the spending requests.

Director Mary “Nicki” McGuire Lynch warned supervisors at their meeting Tuesday that the library likely would need to cut services if not provided additional funding. The library also needs to show its funding partners support the agency in order for it to receive certain grants, the director said. Lynch asked the board to consider the library as an integral part of the county education system.

Warren County constructed the library’s new $6.5 million home in 2008. More than 14,000 people on average use the library each month. More than 400 people responded to a recent survey put out by the library about the possibility of service cuts, indicating support for the request for additional money, the director said.

Bryan Bennett, president of the library board of trustees, said the facility is a valuable resource for county residents who’ve come to rely on what it offers.

“We know things are tight in the Warren County budget,” Bennett said. “You also know the reality that Samuels Library needs additional funds. Our costs are increasing just like yours. Our employees deserve raises just as Warren County employees deserve raises. We need additional new employees. We can’t afford our present technology costs.”

An increase of one-tenth of 1 cent on the tax rate would generate enough revenue to cover much of the library’s additional funding request, Bennett said.

Rose Turner, of Marys Shady Lane, works at the library and spoke in support of funding the facility. Turner told the board about what she sees happening at the library and the variety of people who use the facility.

“The library is the community and if you care about your town or if you are worried about your town then you invest in your library because that’s where it makes a big impact,” Turner said.

County resident Jessica Dean also spoke in support of the library. Since her children are home-schooled, they use the library often to check out books and DVDs. Tamara Houde works for the county school system and voiced support for the library, noting that her children also were excited to check out books and participate in the facility’s programs.

Happy Creek District Supervisor Tony Carter reminded the audience that the board is still deliberating over the budget. The board meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday to decide on tax rates and a proposed budget that the county would need to advertise for the public hearing scheduled for April 12.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com