OPINION

LETTER: Parish Library Director explains millage combination

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

We would like to clarify the misinformation circulating about the Ascension Parish Library’s budget and finances.

On Thursday, Aug. 5, the Library will be requesting that the Ascension Parish Council combine the library’s existing 4.2 mills and its existing 2.6 mills into one 6.8 mills renewal, and place it on the Nov. 2 ballot. This is the money used to operate the library’s four branches.

In 2009 it cost $1,617,841 to run the Gonzales branch, $919,894 to run the Donaldsonville branch and $963,880 to run the Galvez branch. Costs for these branches in 2010 will be higher.

In 2010 it will cost an additional $1,606,558 to operate the Dutchtown branch. Expansion in Gonzales will also increase the cost of running that facility in 2011. In addition, the library pays $650,000 every year, for 30 years, to pay off the construction bond for the Dutchtown and Gonzales branches. The library is also required to pay intergovernmental expenditures by state mandate. The 2010 amount is $205,000.

Therefore, if nothing breaks on the aging buildings, if there are no new employees, if we do not increase the book budget etc., then it will cost at least $5,963,174 in operation and maintenance alone for the library system in 2010. This amount does not include construction spending that is funded through the general fund and the construction bond.

It has been stated the library needs only 4.2 mills to operate. After mandatory payments for the construction bond and state mandates, 4.2 mills would result in $2,611,231. This is definitely not enough funding to run four branches. If the library only receives 4.2 mills in funding, we will lose 38% of our budget and will have no choice but to cut hours and services, layoff staff, and close branches.

It has recently been reported the library has a $15 million surplus. This is not true. Surplus implies monies not dedicated for specific use. Completing the existing construction program and running the current facilities will expend the entire $5,436,037 in bond money and $7,428,836 of the library’s operation and maintenance funds. At the end of 2010, there will be $2,715,011 remaining. This money will cover projected deficits in the upcoming decade and upcoming projects.

It has also been stated the library would collect $90 million in the next 10 years. The library bases its projections on numbers supplied by the Ascension Parish assessor and has verified these numbers again. There will be no $90 million in revenue for the library. Projections indicate the library will average approximately $6 million per year on 6.8 mills.

We would like to thank the citizens for allowing us to serve them for the past 50 years, and we hope to continue the same level of service you have come to expect for our next 50 years.

Angelle Deshautelles

Library Director

Ascension Parish Library