Library Director Again Asks Council For Funding Bump

Tina Scott, James Prendergast Library executive director, discussing the amount of funding in the proposed 2019 city budget for the library. The city budget includes $50,000 for the library. Library officials have asked for $100,000. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

Once again, the executive director of the James Prendergast Library has requested that the Jamestown City Council increase funding for the library in the proposed city budget.

This has become an annual occurrence for Tina Scott, library executive director, in recent years. On Monday, Scott asked the council to increase the proposed funding in the tentative 2019 city budget from $50,000 to $100,000. This is the third consecutive year Scott has attended a budget deliberation meeting with the council to ask for an increase in funding.

Last year, city officials cut the library’s funding in half for 2018 from $100,000 to $50,000. In 2016, the library’s funding was cut from $350,000 to $100,000, a 71 percent reduction, in 2017.

Scott said the $50,000 the city funds the library is about 6 percent of the facilities projected 2019 budget. She said the Prendergast library is the least funded by its local government of all the libraries in the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System. She added the state could cut the library’s funding by 25 percent because of how little funding they receive from the city government. The library receives $75,000 in state aid, she said. Scott said the library is operating at the same budget level it did in 1990 because of the funding cuts it has received in recent years.

In other business, Noah Goodling, Fenton History Center executive director, discussed the funding for the Fenton from the city. He said the city gives the organization $16,000, which he requested. Also, the city funds $10,000 to pay for electric for the museum, which the city owns. He added the amount of funding the city provides the Fenton accounts for 8.5 percent of their budget.

Goodling said some projects that will be happening at the Fenton in 2019 include the installation of an Americans With Disabilities Act wheelchair ramp, which will include a snow melting system, and the installation of an elevator inside the mansion. He also thanked the city for Community Development Block Grant funding earlier this year to purchase a new boiler after the old one abruptly stopped working.

On Monday, the council also held its 2019 budget hearing, which only had one speaker. City resident Doug Champ said the budget proposal is unbalanced and is only out of the red because of the anticipated $1 million the city will receive from the state in additional aid for the third consecutive year. He said it is unwise for city officials to count on the funding because state officials won’t pass their own 2019-20 spending plan until next year. The state has an April 1 deadline to pass an on-time spending proposal.

Champ also questioned city officials on how the city will pay for the arbitration ruling to increase pay for the Jamestown Police Department employees by 2 percent, retroactive to 2016 and 2017. He said city officials will also have to figure out how to pay possible salary increases for the Jamestown Fire Department employees, whose contract with the city expired at the start of 2016.

Since the arbitration decision in November, city officials have not announced or detailed how much the 2 percent pay increase for police employees will cost the city. City officials have announced they are studying their legal options, which possibly means they could appeal the arbitration ruling.