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Soldiers Grove Library to struggle with reduced funding from county
$7,000 vanishes
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The recently expanded and renovated Village of Soldiers Grove Public Library faces an operating budget shortfall in the coming year as county funding for its operation was decreased by $7,183 this year.

Librarian Cele Wolf and library board treasurer Russell Gilbert discussed the budget situation with the Soldiers Grove Village Board’s General Government and Finance Committee prior to the regularly scheduled village board meeting last Thursday, Nov. 14.

In addition to receiving $27,881 from Crawford County in 2014, the library also receives smaller amounts from Vernon ($2,324), Richland ($422), and Grant  ($47) counties for services it provides to residents of those counties. However, most of the lost county revenue for the Soldiers Grove Public Library is the result of a reduction from Crawford County, which reduced the amount of aid for 2014 by $7,222 from the 2013 amount.

Actually taken cumulatively, the smaller contributions from the other counties went up $39 from 2013 to $2,793,

For its part, the contribution of the Village of Soldiers Grove to the 2014 budget is the same as it has been for the past two years, that’s $44,425. The village reduced its contribution by $3,839 in the 2012 budget. That reduction, which reduced overall spending, is one reason the county spending was reduced in the 2014 budget. The county contribution is based on the overall size of the library’s budget.

How bad is the budget gap between spending and revenue?

Gilbert, the library board treasurer, presented a budget that called for $84,350 in spending—that’s up slightly from the 2013 budget of $82,267 in spending. The proposed budget called for an increase in salary and benefits for the librarian of $790 to offset increased costs for retirement and health insurance. Another increase was an additional $500 for the WISCAT program that connects the library through computers to other libraries in the area and around the state.

Additional increased costs in the 2014 proposed budget include $34 more for computers, a total cost of $6,500; $250 more for cleaning, a total cost of $1750; and a $500 increase in utilities, a total cost of $3,000.

The 2014 budgeted revenue of $75,099 for 2014 would not even cover the costs of 2012, which at $78,805 was the lowest budgeted amount in the last three years.

Gilbert urged the board to find a way to restore the $3,839 reduction in village support enacted in the 2012 budget.

While village trustees pledged their support to the library, they urged the library board and staff to find ways to stay within the budgeted $75,099.

“Our budget is shot,” village trustee Shayne Chapman told Gilbert and Wolf. “We would have to dip into the general fund to cover putting $3,900 into the library budget.”

Village trustee Jerry Moran said the village board was committed to holding the line on the budget.

“There’s no way this village can cut anymore than we’ve already cut from this budget,” Chapman said.

“You need to go with the number you’re getting and try to make that work and then come back to the board and report the situation,” village president Laurel Hestetune said. He told the librarian and library board treasurer to plan on making a report on the situation in six months.

Village trustee Jim Helgerson pledged the board would help out the library.

Gilbert asked the board to consider paying additional money to cover increases in retirement and health insurance payments that the fulltime librarian would face in the coming year and the board agreed to raise the total budget by $790 to $75,889 to cover those increased personnel costs.