Prendergast Library Still In The Dark About Aid

“No news is good news” is the approach James Prendergast Library officials might be taking toward whether its aid from the state will be cut.

Tina Scott, Prendergast library executive director, said there still has been no word from state officials on whether the library’s state aid will be cut by 25 percent this year.

Because of funding cuts to the James Prendergast Library of 50 percent in 2018 and 71 percent in 2017 by the city of Jamestown, the library’s state funding could be reduced. Because of these cuts, the library had to apply for a waiver with the state so its funding isn’t cut by 25 percent in 2019.

The Prendergast Library receives around $75,000 from the state annually in aid. Scott said in January a waiver can be granted to not reduce state aid for this year and possibly one additional year during a five-year period, but the board is still waiting a determination on the first deferral.

The library officials have to apply for the waiver because of the state’s Maintenance of Effort for Public Library Systems clause, which tries and ensure that local municipalities will also fund the library so the state isn’t the only taxing entity supporting the facility. If a library’s funding is cut by more than 5 percent in two consecutive years by the local municipality, the facility could lose 25 percent of its state aid. The city cut the library’s funding by $50,000 in 2018 and $250,000 in 2017.

“No unfortunately we haven’t heard a word. Nothing at all and I’m not really sure why,” she said. “We need to know. We need to plan.”

Scott said the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System is officially handling the wavier process with the state. She said she is helping the director of the overall library system to find out who will make the decision on the wavier. In January, Scott said it was unknown at the time, but the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System state aid could also be impacted because of the city’s funding cuts to the Prendergast Library.

In other business, Scott said library officials are also awaiting word from state officials to use the remaining funding they received in a construction grant in 2017 to power wash and repaint bricks on the facility. Scott said the Sixth Street side of the building near the parking lot will undergo the pressure washing and brick repainting once the state approves the project.