Wednesday, August 7, 2013
© Copyright 2013
Gwinnett Daily Post
LAWRENCEVILLE — After taking a $1 million hit to the budget of the Gwinnett County Public Library, officials are hoping to avoid another loss to state funds.
County government leaders showed support this week to the system in an application to keep its state funding intact despite a policy that the service’s primary funding source does not cut its budget.
Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash cut the system’s funding by $1 million earlier this year, but said the state would be “hypocritical” to penalize the library system, since it also had to cut its funding due to the down economy in recent years.
“They need to be flexible,” Nash said, adding that governments across the state have been forced to lower funding levels due to shrinking tax bases since the recession began.
The 15-branch library system was granted a similar waiver in 2011 after the county was forced to cut its funds.
Library board Chairman Dick Goodman said the impact of the state partnership is even greater than the $1.1 million it provides to the system’s operating budget, which is only about 5 percent of the system’s $18.2 million budget.
Without that tie, the library would have to invest in about $1.5 million worth of research databases the state makes available, and the system would not be eligible for grants that assist with capital expenses. In recent years, the grants have included money for a renovation of the Five Forks branch and $2 million for the construction of the Hamilton Mill branch.
“It’s so significant in this environment,” Goodman said of the state support, quoting a saying. “A million dollars here, a million dollars there; pretty soon, you are talking about real money. … It’s very important.”