Minutes September 22, 2009
The Gwinnett County Public Library Board of Trustees held its regularly scheduled meeting on September 22, 2009 at the Five Forks branch. Present were Board members Phyllis Oxendine-Chair, Dale Todd-Vice Chair, Margaret Tiller-Secretary, Babs Wagoner-Treasurer and Phillip Saxton. Administrative staff members present were Nancy Stanbery-Kellam-Executive Director, Liz Forster-Deputy Director, Jane Walters-Business Services Director, Barbara Spruill-Branch Services Director, Kim Rodriguez-Human Resources Director, Michael Casey-Information Technology Director, Deb George-Materials Management Director, Sue Calbreath-Events & Outreach Director, Michelle Long-Public Relations Director, Eamon Shelton-Capital Projects Manager, Denise Auger-Community Partnership Coordinator and Pamela Covington-Administrative Assistant. Other administrative staff members were also in attendance.
Phyllis called the meeting to order at 6:30 PM. Phyllis thanked citizens and staff for attending the meeting. Phyllis stated during the business meeting the only speakers would be the Executive Director, staff members making presentations, and Board members.
Board of Trustees' Meeting Minutes
Motion by Todd to approve the June 8, 2009 and August 11, 2009 Meeting Minutes as distributed, seconded by Tiller, unanimous.
Nancy reported staff met with Phillip Saxton and reviewed his document, "Expanding Our Library System Vision". The Revenue Recommendations are in response to the document. Jane stated library staff were recommending five changes to provide additional revenue to the library:
1. Lowering the block threshold – Currently customers are unable to check out material when their balance due the library equals/exceeds $25.00.
- Lowering this block threshold to $15.00 would encourage more customers to pay their balances. The estimated annual revenue that would be generated by this action is $155,000.
2. Charge for computer use guest card – Currently customers who do not have a library card can use the computers by obtaining a guest card. The guest cards are free.
- Charging a daily fee; $3.00 to out of County customers and $2.00 to Gwinnett residents, who decide not to obtain a Library card, would be a new source of revenue. The estimated annual revenue that would be generated by this action is $148,000.
3. Eliminate refunds on lost material payments –The library system will not issue refunds after customers have paid for the material. The estimated annual revenue that would be generated by this action would be a minimum of $2,500.
4. Charge a meeting room maintenance fee – Currently the library has a policy stating there is no fee charged for room usage for the three rooms' available system wide.
- Charging $20.00 maintenance fee per use would generate additional revenue. The estimated annual revenue that would be generated by this action is $11,000.
5. Charge ILL postage cost - Currently customers do not pay the library any fees for the ILL services.
- Charging customers a flat $2.00 fee to cover the postage to return the ILL material to the lending library reduces the cost to the library system. The average postage cost per item is $2.58. The estimated annual revenue that would be generated by this action is $10,000.
The above recommendations would need a 3 month lead time to market to customers and train staff on processes and procedures which would need to be developed. The effective date to implement these fees would be January 1, 2010. Phillip questioned if "Lowering the block threshold" was being recommended in lieu of his suggestion to increase late fees. Jane stated that the incentive for having late fees was not to generate revenue but to provide incentive for customers to return materials. Staff are not sure that doubling fees from .20 cents per day/per item to .40 cents would increase revenue as some customers might not keep books out past the due date. GCPL's late fees are already the highest in the area. Lowering the block threshold is an alternative which can be monitored over the next six months to one year. Phillip suggested that staff continue to consider increasing the fees by some amount as well as the recommendations made. Dale mentioned the recommendations are potential, estimated revenue.
Motion by Saxton to approve the Revenue Recommendations with two amendments: 1) implement a series of marketing strategies to allow the community to make donations to the library system, and 2) keep as an option increasing fees beginning next fiscal year depending upon how well the Revenue Recommendations work. No second, Motion failed. Motion by Tiller to approve amending the Fee Based Services Policy to include charging fees for computer use, ILL, meeting room maintenance fee, and for staff to take appropriate action to strive for a January 1, 2010 implementation date, seconded by Todd, Wagoner approved, Saxton abstained. Motion passed 3-1.
Paradigm Shift of Library Services
Nancy thanked the Board members for serving the community and the library. She apologized to Board members for what they were subjected to over the past six weeks. Library staff made a well thought out proposal to the Board, and the Board voted based on the staff's recommendation. After further review of that service change recommendation, staff continues to feel it is a valid financial decision. The service change recommendation was portrayed as insensitive to one part of the community which may be because the public was not fully aware of the plan. Misinformation spread like wildfire. Administrative staff tried to clear up inaccuracies, but could never determine exactly how the inaccuracies were being disseminated and why. For instance, it is clear to staff, Phyllis, as Board Chair, does not vote except to break a tie. Yet Phyllis was accused of political wrongdoing. Sadly, the focus sometimes shifted away from the library, morphing into accusations of political wrongdoing. Staff appreciates and thanks the people wanting to keep libraries open. Nancy thanked staff members for continuing to deliver excellent service during this time. As the library is going through an adjustment period from 71 open hours to 43, circulation is down yet work units per hour are up. All staff are doing their best and their part to get through this and it is appreciated. None of us want to close libraries, reduce services or hours. No one set out to hurt any group or part of Gwinnett County. However, the library like any business has to reduce expenses to stay within the revenue. Like all governments and other publicly supported services, the library is experiencing unprecedented budget cuts. Before discussing specific budget changes and the measures the library has taken, Nancy talked about Gwinnett County's good fortune to this point. The Library has enjoyed the rewards afforded this community through exponential growth over the past several decades. The combination of excellent funding, organizational vision and a highly qualified staff has taken the library to the highest level of achievement in the library community on state and national levels. In order to maintain and exceed this high level of service to the community, the library must be willing to make changes that will best serve the community during these economically challenging times. The library and the Board have been put in a very difficult position where funding shortfalls have led to unwelcomed reduction in service and hours. Neither the library nor the Board wants to make any reductions to any part of the community. Nancy shared the library's financial history by providing a PowerPoint Slide Presentation, "Economic Challenges & Service Adjustments". A copy of the presentation was distributed to Board members and is located in the GCPL Board of Trustees Meeting Minute book at the Administrative office. Nancy stated with the past funding cuts and more to be anticipated, no organization can sustain that kind of loss without a paradigm shift. Before now, the library has been able to provide full service to all branch locations with no variation in operating hours. Staff have built a world class organization that has received state and national recognition, the most recent being the coveted John Cotton Dana Award. As the PowerPoint presentation showed, the library has lost the equivalent of approximately $4M which is what would be needed to keep the library operating at an optimum level. The loss has been devastating to this thriving organization but staff has opted to also see this as an opportunity to evaluate the services provided. Staff reviewed customer responses on service surveys, as well as other statistics available, to modify the library's service model. Being forced to reduce services has given staff the opportunity to develop special services in a regional way that will serve the community while being more cost effective. Administrative staff feels this is the silver lining in what has been a no win situation for the Library Board and staff. The library will be able to meet financial goals while providing a new service the community has requested. Community surveys, along with use statistics and anecdotal observations, revealed that the community wants and needs more access to computers. This along with the need to reduce costs led staff to develop plans for computer labs at some locations. Staff are excited about the possibility of adding computer labs since this is the number one service request. This paradigm shift is necessary to make the best use of the library's overall resources.
New Service Model Proposal
Nancy reported Board members received five New Service Model scenarios in the Board Meeting mailing. Barbara discussed the critical balance between the number of open hours and available staff needed to provide customer service and to operate the branches. Staff realizes that further reductions in staffing levels will be necessary to meet budget cuts for FY2010 which translates into a further reduction in open hours. From the proposals submitted where all branches remain open as full service facilities, available staff is stretched very thin, even with an increased number of volunteers added to an already healthy roaster of volunteer hours dedicated to branch services. The focus is on expanding services to the whole of the community instead of reducing them. Reaching this goal within the framework of both budget and staffing reductions is a challenging one, but one that staff feels the recommended proposal, #5 Three Regional Libraries, 3 Computer Labs and 9 Community Branches, helps the library to achieve. While this model does not close any facility, it does change the look of the library system. At the system level, it does not alter or restrict library services, and in fact, expands them. It accomplishes this by creating three tiers of service that work together to provide a 7 day a week service model across the County. The Regional Tier offers services at the current 43 open hours per week level at three different locations. Slightly shorter hours but still full service hours are provided by the tier of 9 Community Branches. The third tier consists of three Computer Labs one in each region that responds to the number one requested service enhancement Gwinnett County Public Library users said they wanted in the most recent survey, access to more computers. The three Computer Lab locations would not only consist of computers, each would have the familiar hold shelves where local customers could pick up, check out and indeed check back in requested titles. Wi-Fi service, help desk assistance, catalog access, copying and printing services and new library cards would all be included in the services offered through the labs. The distinctive and new services that the labs would provide are classes on timely and relevant topics such as job searching, resume writing, introduction to new on-line technologies, and for students further instruction and guidance on research projects. The library has many subject experts within the staff. The branches are quite busy, and staff does not always have the requisite amount of time to spend with people individually. In a classroom setting, that could be accomplished. Another new service that the library has received requests for is now possible and that would be on-line test proctoring for the many distance learners throughout the County. Either a Regional Library or a Community Branch with full library services would be within driving distance of each lab. While we would try to keep the open hours as close as possible across the tiers, the inherent benefit in the tiered approach is that 7 day service is now again available across the library. Because the labs would operate with fewer full time employees, they not only introduce new services, but also allow full service locations to utilize the remaining staff more effectively. Volunteers would actively be sought by each facility to enhance service across all tiers. In summary, a number of New Service Models have been studied that would enable all GCPL branches to remain open and to open Hamilton Mill before June 30, 2010. The staff recommends a service model that calls for a regional rather than uniform service delivery philosophy. The projected model would create three Regional Library areas; each area would have a Computer Lab that includes hold services and material pick up and Community Branches. Board approval is requested to approve a New Service Model calling for the creation of Regional and Community Branches along with neighborhood Computer Labs. Board members had several questions regarding New Service Models. Board members had a lengthy discussion regarding the Fund Balance, building a core collection, how many computers would be in labs, SPLOST funds, and why Administrative staff where recommending the service model #5 with Regional Libraries, Community Libraries and Computer Labs. Phillip stated the recommended plan was a central library strategy and changing to a regional system would be going against the strategies that have been implemented successfully in Gwinnett County for the last 20 to 30 years. He stated neighborhood libraries located near parks and clusters of schools have been supported in Gwinnett County by the Board of Commissioners, Chamber of Commerce, and business and community leaders. Nancy mentioned the community has changed over the past 20 years when the smaller buildings were planned and built. The Long Range Facilities Plan moves toward a regional library concept. Staff thought the library would have time to evolve into the regional system, but are being forced into it sooner due to the economic changes that no one anticipated at this level. Phillip recommended New Service Model #3 which would keep all 15 branches open 35 hours a week. Nancy reported under the regional plan computer centers and community libraries would be open 35 hours per week and the regional libraries would be open for 43 hours per week providing a 7 day service which customers have requested.
Motion by Saxton to approve New Service Model Proposal #3 where all 15 branches would remain open 35 hours per week for one year, and then to revisit the New Service Model Proposal #3. No second, motion failed. Motion by Saxton that the staff recommend New Service Model Proposal #5 be tabled until the Board can get adequate comment from leaders of the community. No second, motion failed. Motion by Todd to approve New Service Model #5 calling for the creation of Regional and Community Branches along with neighborhood Computer Labs, seconded by Tiller, Wagoner approved, Saxton opposed. Motion Passed 3-1. Phillip asked if the Library Board has the legal authority to convert the usage of a County facility without specific written authority from the Board of Commissioners. Phyllis answered yes; the County tells the Board how much money the library is allotted, but the County does not tell the Library how to spend the money. It is up to the Board to vote policy as recommended by staff.
FY2009 Financial Statement – June 30, 2009
Jane discussed the Statement of Revenues, Expenditures and Changes in Fund Balance for FY2009 Twelve Months Ended June 30, 2009. The fiscal year ended with an increase to the fund balance of $93,253 mainly due to the unexpected statewide reduction in the state health insurance expense of $629,000 during the last few months in the fiscal year. Without this reduction in the health insurance expense the fund balance would have decreased $535,747.
Revenues for fiscal year 2009, excluding the Hamilton Mill construction grant, totaled $22,018,521. The Library received $18,827,433 (85%) of its revenue from Gwinnett County and $1,309,071 (6%) from State and Federal Grants. The remaining self-generated income totaled $1,882,017 (9%). FY2009 revenues increased $231,263 (1.1%) from the prior year. This increase was lower than expected due to revenue reductions from several sources totaling $393,808:
- Interest Revenue $224,673
- State Funding $141,521
- Gwinnett Tech $20,735
- Fines & Out of County Cards $6,879
In addition, the Library's funding from the County for calendar year 2009 was $801,700 less than the County recommendation.
- The Library received $1,843,425 in State funding for the Hamilton Mill Branch Construction Project during FY09. This amount plus the $156,575 received in FY08 now completes the total $2,000,000 funding from the State. The Library has disbursed these funds to Gwinnett County for the construction of the Hamilton Mill Branch.
Expenditures for the year totaled $21,925,268, excluding the Hamilton Mill construction payments to the County. Expenditures represent 91% of the budgeted amount.
- Since January 2009, the Library staff has proactively responded to the decrease in anticipated revenues through budget reductions of expenditures, keeping spending requests to core items and initiating a hiring freeze, all in response to the uncertainty of future funding.
Personnel expenditures of $14,902,861 represent 92% of the personnel budget. The $1,215,013 remaining personnel budget includes:
- $629,000 resulting from a rate reduction in the employer contribution rate for the Georgia Health Benefit Plan. The Georgia Board of Community Health approved this statewide reduction for the last few months in fiscal year 2009.
$586,013 realized through position vacancies due to normal turnover of library staff and the Library hiring freeze instituted in February 2009.
Material expenditures of $3,884,579 and material encumbrances of $209,337 at June 30, 2009 utilized 100% of the material budget.
- Operations Expenditures totaled $3,137,828 at June 30, 2009, representing 82% of the operations budget. Receipt of the E-rate reimbursement of $211,771 and the overall curtailment of operation spending to essential functions resulted in the remaining budget balances.
The Fund Balance at June 30, 2009 is $6,020,120 and consists of the following balances:
- The $255,946 carryover encumbrance will ensure that the FY09 encumbrances are funded in FY10. The encumbrance includes $209,337 for Materials and $46,609 for Operating expenses.
- The Vehicle and Equipment Replacement fund balance of $1,711,161 provides the resources for the future replacement of library vehicles and library technology as outlined in the Fund schedule presented at the FY10 Budget Workshop and approved with the FY10 Budget. This year $419,054 was transferred to this fund to provide adequate future funding. The FY09 Vehicle and Equipment Fund purchases totaled $326,138.
- Remaining funds are used to balance the FY10 Budget and as a contingency reserve. The FY10 Budget required $2,181,522 to balance the budget as approved by the Library Board at the June 8, 2009 Board Meeting. The remaining funds represent approximately one month's operating contingency fund.
FY2010 Financial Statement – August 31, 2009
The fiscal year 2010 financial statement for the two months ended August 31, 2009 shows an excess of revenues over expenditures of $1,445,217. This large amount is due to the receipt of the County quarterly subsidy of $4,707,791 and the financials showing two months of expenses. Based on the County's 7/21/2009 resolution to implement budget reductions to assist in balancing the County 2010 through 2014 Financial Plan, the Library's FY2010 Budget will be adjusted once the County approves their 2010 Budget in January. The 2010 County Budget reductions include a $1,867,000 reduction to the Library subsidy. The Library's FY2010 County revenue budget would be reduced by $933,500 to reflect the six month reduction. Additional budget adjustments will be addressed at that time to respond to the revenue reduction.
FY2010 Budget Adjustments
Georgia Humanities Council Grant
The Georgia Humanities Council has approved a grant to Gwinnett County Public Library for $2,000 for "2009 Gwinnett Reads". The grant will help cover travel expenditures for the author and publicity. The grant period runs from October 1, 2009 to December 31, 2009. Motion by Todd to approve recording the Georgia Humanities Council Grant for the "2009 Gwinnett Reads", increasing Grant Revenue and decreasing the Fund Balance requirement by $2,000, seconded by Tiller, unanimous.
LSTA PRIME TIME Family Reading Time Grant
Georgia Public Library Service has awarded Federal Library Services and Technology Grant (LSTA) funds to Gwinnett County Public Library for up to $6,200 for the PRIME TIME Family Reading Time grant. The grant will cover expenditures for training, travel, and stipends for the scholar, storyteller and coordinator. This program is designated specifically for under-served families with children ages 6-10 to encourage reading, discussion and aids parents and children in selecting books and becoming active public library users. The Grant period runs from July 1, 2009 to December 15, 2009.
Motion by Tiller to approve recording the LSTA PRIME TIME Family Reading Time Grant increasing Grant Revenue and Operations expenditures up to $6,200, seconded by Todd, unanimous.
State Revenue Reduction
As part of statewide budget cuts, the Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) has informed the Library that FY2010 State funding has been reduced to $1,190,003. The Gwinnett County Public Library FY2010 State Revenue Grant will be reduced $100,175. GPLS has informed us that additional cuts may occur this fiscal year. Motion by Todd to approve decreasing the State Grant revenue budget and increasing the Fund Balance requirement by $100,175, seconded by Wagoner, unanimous.
Georgia Health Insurance Rate Reduction
During August 2009 the Georgia Board of Community Health approved a state wide reduction of the employer contribution rate to the Georgia Health Benefit Plan effective September 2009 through November 2009. The employer contribution rate will be reduced to 14.492%, a 4.042% reduction resulting in an approximate $109,000 reduction in the Library health insurance expense. Motion by Todd to approve decreasing the Personnel budget by $109,000 and decreasing the Fund Balance requirement by the same amount, seconded by Wagoner, unanimous.
The fixed asset schedule details equipment that has been replaced with updated technology. Once the Board declares the assets as surplus, the items will be transferred to Gwinnett County for disposition. Motion by Tiller to approve the surplus of fixed assets originally costing $14,350, seconded by Todd, unanimous.
Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia
Jane discussed the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia schedule for Quarter ended June 30, 2009 which shows the library foundation funding at $192,321.56.
Phillip stated he requested information from the library which he had to pay for under the Freedom of Information Act. He does not feel Board members should have to pay for information. Phillip requested the information he received be sent to all Board members at no additional charge. Nancy explained Board members customarily request information through the Board Chair as a Board request for all members to receive. Phillip's request was not a Board request and therefore was handled as a citizen's Open Records Request. Motion by Saxton for Administrative staff to provide all information he received through an Open Records Request to all Board members at no additional charge, seconded by Todd, unanimous.
Motion by Todd to adjourn the meeting at 9:10 PM, seconded by Tiller, unanimous.
Minutes submitted by Pamela Covington for Margaret Tiller, Board Secretary.