Library seeks $7,500 from city for FY 2021

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Monticello Public Library Director Michelle Turnis, accompanied by the Library Board of Directors, presented her Fiscal Year 2021 budget to the Monticello City Council during the Feb. 4 meeting.

     The library is asking the city for an additional $7,500 of funding, a total appropriation of $130,000. This money would not be used to purchase materials or pay for library services. It would used to keep the staff paid and the library operating:

     • Salaries for four library employees

     • Janitorial services

     • Building repair and maintenance

     • Utilities

     • General insurance

     • Unemployment

     The biggest uses of the appropriation are salaries ($107,917), utilities ($8,500), and insurance ($6,000).

     All of these items total $131,495.

     Turnis pulled data from 12 different libraries that are close to the population of Monticello, as well as the averages for Class D size libraries, of which the Monticello library is classified.

     “We are low on everything except hours of operation,” said Turnis. The Monticello library is open 53 hours a week, more than any Class D library and the average of the 12 pulled.

     While the library is open more hours, the four employees are underpaid by comparison.

     “Three non-library city employees make less than I do as a department head,” remarked Turnis. “The board is working to bring up wages, but we’re still not comparable.”

     The library board proposed 5 percent pay increases of the staff.

     “The library staff are the lowest paid in the city,” added Turnis.

     The City of Monticello’s appropriation Turnis used in her comparison includes employee benefits for the three full-time library staff members ($157,369). That said, it is still lower than the average of the 12 libraries ($193,301.15), as well as for Class D libraries ($162,321).

     Jones County was routinely appropriated $18,748 for the Monticello library, with small increases over the years. Turnis explained to the council that Monticello and Anamosa receive the same amount from the county, with smaller funding amounts going to the five smaller libraries in Jones County.

     “We always ask for an increase from the county,” she said. Twenty-five percent of the library’s usage stems from rural residents.

     The amount of programs the library hosted increased by 2 percent from the last fiscal year. The library’s outreach programs increased by 57 percent, yet the library staff’s hours and pay have remained the same.

     The library has formed several community partnerships for programming: Jones County Extension and Outreach, Monticello Heritage and Cultural Center, Above & Beyond, Jones County Naturalist, and HACAP. Once a month the library serves as a mobile food site for HACAP so people in the community and stop by and receive food donations. The library board and library volunteers also assist in this endeavor, as it takes several volunteers to man the mobile food site.

     The Friends of the Library contribute about $5,000 toward library programs, covering approximately two-thirds of the total programs.

     The library’s operating budget is about $163,000.

     “As we put the budget together, the city council makes the decision on how much to appropriate,” explained City Administrator Doug Herman. “The library board manages its own budget, wages, hours, but it’s the council that holds the purse strings.”

     “We’re just asking for enough to keep the library open,” expressed Turnis.

     Council member Dave Goedken asked about the library’s carry over from the last fiscal year. That was roughly $3,200.

     The council will make a decision on its library appropriation in the coming weeks as they finalize their FY 2021 budget.


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