Library scrambling because Trinity may pull funding

June 10, 2014
Citizens Library may have to cut programs or staff if Trinity School Board does not include its annual donation in its 2014-15 budget. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Citizens Library is lobbying for Trinity Area School District to continue to make its annual donation after finding out the school district has not included a library contribution in its proposed 2014-15 final budget.

Citizens Library Director Diana Ambrose said the library could be forced to cut summer children’s programs if it doesn’t receive Trinity’s donation.

The school district last year contributed $26,250 to Citizens, which Ambrose said accounts for about 16 percent of contributions made by local municipalities and school districts.

The library’s 2013-14 budget is approximately $900,000, Ambrose said.

Ambrose urged patrons and community members to contact school board members and substitute Superintendent Michael Lucas, and the library started a petition to request the district doesn’t cut its donation. Ambrose also is asking people to attend the June 19 school board meeting, where the budget is expected to be adopted.

Trinity’s donation is the equivalent of three months of utility bills, the salary of two part-time staff members or the cost of children and teen programs and materials, according to Ambrose.

Rebecca Smiley, children’s services manager, said about half of the students who attend library programs are from Trinity schools and many of them earn community service hours at the library.

“It would be a very serious blow to the library if we lose their funding,” said Ambrose.

Trinity is facing its own financial difficulties, however, and its preliminary budget, approved in May, included a 2.7-mill tax increase.

At that time, David Roussos, director of fiscal services, said the budget included “no room for error” because of a low fund balance.

In addition, actual expenditures for 2012-13 were more than $2.9 million over budgeted expenditures, a result of increased expenses in several areas. Increasing costs in special education, charter schools and transportation, coupled with reduced state and federal grants, have made balancing the budget a challenge.

Lucas said in a brief email the school district’s decision to cut its donation to the library is tied to its financial situation.

Karen Mansfield is an award-winning journalist and mom of five who has been a staff writer for the Observer-Reporter since 1988. She enjoys reading, the Pittsburgh Steelers, a good glass of wine and nice people.

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