Questions & Answers about
Mark Skinner Library/Manchester Community Library’s Request for Public Funding

$44,800 in addition to the $153,200 we have received for the past 4 years= $198,000 request

1. Why so large an increase?

We only receive partial operating support from the Town of Manchester. Our last increase in support was in 2010. For the past three years, we received the same amount from the Town which caused us to cut back staffing, impacting our ability to serve library users.

Much of the increase we seek covers adding staffing hours (where appropriate) that were cut, staffing for the additional day we will be open, staffing to support our digital and technology needs, and staffing to support the Children’s and Young Adult departments. Even with these modest additions, we will continue to run a lean organization.

2. Why should the Town pay for it?

We are Manchester’s only public library. A vibrant public library is an important component to the quality of life in our community, providing essential services and benefitting people of all ages and walks of life and we rely on Manchester to help us meet our operating budget.

Libraries in Vermont do not get any state funding. With all the possible fluctuations in revenue streams due to outside forces that we cannot entirely control (stock market climate and investment interest, recessions, annual donation declines, missed grant awards) having a portion of our operating budget come from stable, municipal funding means that we can count on some measure of consistency in services and programs.

Throughout Vermont, public libraries receive 82% of their operating funds from local taxes. At 42.5% of our proposed operating budget, we believe by comparison that our request is fair and reasonable.

3. Is the Library asking for funding of a library that is used primarily by people from outside of Manchester?

No, the majority of members of the library are from Manchester. Last year, 78% of library members were Manchester residents and 22% were non-residents. Remember that non- residents pay a fee to belong to the library, and Manchester residents belong for free.

4. What percent of your operating budget will the Town fund?

42.5% of our operating budget. The construction of the new building is 100% privately funded.

5. If the Town is providing $198,000 for operating support, why shouldn’t the Town manage the library?

The Town’s Select Board appoints five trustees to the Library’s board who are charged with ensuring that the library runs as efficiently as possible.

6. Did the Library just assume that the Town would be willing to cover the operating budget’s increase of $100,000 over this year’s?

The Library never assumes anything with respect to monies being provided by the taxpayer. We are gratified that the Town’s voters have approved our requests each time the Library has asked them to support our efforts. We are asking the taxpayers to support less than half of the budget increase.

7. If I don’t use the Library, why should my tax dollars support it?

We are Manchester’s only public library. A vibrant public library is an important component to the quality of life in our community, providing essential services to our residents, and we rely on Manchester to help us meet our operating budget.

Just as taxpayers may not have children currently in the schools, or use the pool and Recreation Park, as citizens we know that there are pillars of a strong community that we support as taxpayers, that keep us safe, educated, and connected for the overall good of us all. For heavy to occasional users to people who currently may not use it at all, the Library is available and accessible to all of Manchester’s residents.

8. Don’t you have enough money in your endowment?

Our capital campaign for the new library plans to double our endowment. We draw a fiscally responsible amount (between 4 to 5%) from the investment interest as a revenue source for the operating budget. In 2005, the Library board committed to protect and responsibly manage the endowment to help ensure financial stability for our future.

9. How much do you have to raise?

Our operating budget for FY ‘14-‘15 is approximately $466,000. Even with Town funding we will have to raise $268,000 from a combination of other sources–nearly 60% of what we need to run the Library.

10.Can’t the work be done with volunteers?

Volunteers are valuable to our library, but the majority of the work that gets done at the library is performed by our staff.

11.Who paid for the new library building? Are you using taxpayer money to build it? Who asked you to build a new library? What’s wrong with the old one?

The construction of the new library building is 100% privately funded by gifts from individuals, businesses, and foundations. No taxpayer money is being used to build the new library.

After years of careful thought, the Library’s board of trustees determined that the more than century-old building no longer supported the functions needed to serve our community. The current library simply lacks the space and functionality required to serve the needs of a community of our size and vitality. The building’s layout, with five vertical levels, multiple staircases, and no elevator incurs high operating costs. It is not handicapped accessible, has inadequate parking, is far from the center of town, is challenging for the staff to operate effectively, and most importantly, makes it difficult to offer the best in 21st-century library services.

Community-wide focus groups, part of the Library’s long-range planning process, clearly said that they wanted a premier public “library of the future”- one that meets the needs of both current and future patrons while serving as a vibrant center of community activity. This vision included a first-rate facility, expanded programming and services, and enhanced technology, and led to the decision to build a new library.

12.Why was the Town not consulted about the additional operating costs of the new library before you built it? How will the increase in the Library’s operating budget be used?

The Library has continued to do more with less for the past three years. This year’s request is not for major additional operating costs for the new library. The majority of the increase in the operating budget:

  •   Restores staffing hours that were cut due to level-funding for the past three years
  •   Responds to an additional day of the week the library will be open (Monday)
  • ●  Addresses increased demands from library users
  • ●  Funds increasing costs for technology equipment and support13.What else are you doing to bring in revenue?
  •   Space and room rentals for meetings, performances, conferences, events, weddings
  •   Touchdown Workspaces for private, on-the-go work space and meeting rentals
  •   Grants and corporate sponsorships
  •   Annual fund drive and fundraising events
  •   Endowment interestWe are also providing housing the Manchester Historical Society and Vermont Reading Partners for modest rents.

14.Can’t library services be provided to the community through BBA and MEMS which are already funded through tax dollars?

Both BBA and MEMS have libraries that are open only during school hours, primarily geared toward the needs of students, and are not open for use by the public at large. The Manchester Community Library will be open six days a week, into the evenings and will have a collection and resources designed to meet the needs of the greater community. Neither BBA nor MEMS budget for having their libraries used by the general public.

15.Aren’t Manchester’s taxes high enough?

Manchester actually has a lower municipal tax rate than many communities in Vermont. The cost for supporting the Library’s request will add about $11.95 a year for a median house tax bill in Manchester. That’s less than one pizza or a lunch out… less than one hard-cover book…and less than $1 a month.

When this added amount is combined with the current appropriation’s tax impact, which on the same median house is $40.90, the annual amount to support the library would be $52.85. We believe it is well worth less than $5 a month to have a valuable community resource that is available to all, now and for generations to come.

16.What will happen to the old library?

We are actively working on selling the building. It has been professionally appraised and we are seeking qualified buyers for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

17.What are the benefits of a new library?

Our new library will be a gathering place for sharing news and ideas, collaborating, and strengthening community relationships. Designed with flexibility to adapt to the future needs of the community, the new library will be:

  •   Handicapped accessible, with ample parking
  •   Convenient to the active center of town, the public school, and day care centers
  •   Open six days a week
  •   An access point for computers, free WiFi, and digital support and services
  •   The “Go-To” place for kids, with a separate children’s story and activity area, and adedicated room for middle-schoolers, providing a safe place for children after school,during school vacations, and over the summer
  •   A meeting and event space for community groups, small and home-based businesses,conferences, exhibits, bridge games, performances, and weddings
  •   A diverse resource and information commons with books, audio and e-books,databases, DVDs, and magazines available for free for residents18.What will happen if you don’t receive the funding?

    If the Library does not receive additional funding from the Town, we would not be able to open on Mondays, and reductions in staff, materials, and services would be unavoidable.