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Libraries' hours at 35 a week

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Even though county commissioners approved a tax increase last week, library board members will wait until leaders adopt a budget in January to consider increasing service hours.

"I guess when we have the money, we can approach it at that point," trustee Dale Todd said Monday.

After cutting hours and Sunday and Monday service earlier this year, the library board voted to reduce library operations to 35 hours a week beginning next year, when county officials said the service would take a $1.8 million budget reduction.

With the 2.28 mill property tax increase approved last week, officials have said the $1.8 million would be reissued, allowing the library system to offer 48 to 52 hours a week, but library staff said they are still evaluating options, including offering hours on various days to have a library branch within the system open each day of the week.

Library officials are already dealing with cuts to a state grant, approving Monday another $50,000 reduction to make a total $173,614 cut from the original grant.

In addition, library fines are down by about 18 percent, or $47,996 from July through September. Business Services Director Jane Walters said the fine collections are likely lower because of the reduced hours.

Also on Monday, the library board made revisions to several policies which will allow for increased fines and fees in an attempt to increase revenue.

Beginning Feb. 1, people will be charged $20 maintenance fee for the use of meeting rooms, a $2 charge for computer guest use ($3 for those who don't live in Gwinnett) and a $2 fee for inter-library loans.

Board members also eliminated refunds on lost material payments and lowered the fine threshold where people are blocked from checking out materials from $25 to $15.

The changes are expected to generate $326,500 a year.