Working off its July 10 budget workshop agenda, the Fort Myers Beach Public Library District Board of Directors set tentative budgetary requirements for fiscal year 2012-13, before discussing hours of operation during its expansion move at its monthly meeting Tuesday, July 24.
The Beach Library Board collectively approved to set its tentative millage rate to 0.4999 mills and finalized its first budget hearing to occur Tuesday, Sept. 18 and its final budget hearing before its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 25. Both hearing times are at 5:30 p.m.
Board member Mark LaFave reported the 0.4999 millage rate reflects a 7.64 percent revenue reduction from last year by applying the current roll back rate of 0.5117 mills. The approved tentative millage rate is the same as the current rate, which was described as a 20 percent decrease of the 2011-12 roll back rate of 0.6249.
"I think it's being prudent and cautious. We do have a major project. I don't want to be caught in a situation of making a tactical mistake," he said. "In the height of what we have going on, we are definitely operating on a razor line."
The Beach Library has been undergoing a construction expansion project that began in April 2011. It will add 18,895 square feet to the existing building for a total of 34,190 square feet to house a growing collection and handle expanded services.
"I would be more confident seeing a bigger tax reduction," said Vice President Karen Swanbeck, the lone dissenter of the board's 6-1 member approval.
Board members discussed three proposed millage rates at their budget workshop -0.4799 mills and 0.4599 mils were the other two- and decided on the highest one with the idea of possibly lowering it before adopting its final budget. All three rates were reported to represent a decrease in tax revenue.
"The purpose of the workshop was to examine those three and what they would mean as far as revenues for the library," said President Katie Corning, also in favor of the approved tentative millage rate. "It's still a tax reduction and we still have a couple of months to explore this and look at the budget numbers we will be developing at 0.4999."
The overall cautious approach at setting the tentative millage at the higher rate was due to unknown additional construction costs that may be uncovered during the project, even with a contracted guaranteed price maximum standard. Another reason was involved in an approved extended contract from Oct. 10 to Dec. 10, due to an unanticipated placing of a fire lid into the current building that added to the scope of the project. That increase in project time extends construction into the next fiscal year.
"This building still has not been renovated," Lafave said about the existing library. "Now, we are going to be in the next fiscal year with the unforeseen, which we have already encountered with a $50,000 surprise."
"We don't know what our cushion is for the renovation of this building," added Board member Lorrie Wolf.
There is hopes that Manhattan Construction Inc. would be able to do some prior exploratory work to make sure there are no more "surprises" in the existing building.
The complete Beach Library draft budget at the tentative rate of 0.4999 can be viewed on website www.fmblibrary.com. The proposed 2012-13 budget revenue amount, equal to the expenditures, is $1,474,745.
Beach Library to close during move
The Beach Library's current facility will need to be closed for a few days during the next week or so to move materials into the expansion building and former bookstore (which closed July 28) across the street.
Library Director Dr. Leroy Hommerding stated the library might be closed for a minimum of three days up to six days. The actual move of all library materials will depend on when library officials receive a Certificate of Occupancy. Notice of the closing will be in the local newspapers as well as the library website and within the library itself.
Volunteers are being sought to help with the move prior to and during the closed period.
"Anybody who wants to help, we can use your help," said Corning.
Hommerding expressed gratitude to be able to be open during the construction period. He also asked and received his board's approval to adjust hours during the current building's renovations.
"It is phenomenal to do a construction project like this and be open the entire time," said Hommerding. "It's a real tribute to the contractors."
Board meetings to have two public input times on agenda
The FMB Library Board unanimously approved to install another public input spot on its monthly meeting agenda for future meetings. One public comment slot will also be added to public hearings once each hearing is open.
The process involves any meeting attendee signing his or her name verifying that he or she wishes to make public input before the meeting begins. The approval allows the speaker to speak on any agenda item at the beginning of the meeting for no more than three minutes and/or at the end of the meeting with the same time limitation on any subject not necessarily pertaining to the agenda.
The Board of Directors will not hold a meeting in August, but will meet in the expansion building conference room in September, when the two public input times will be in effect.
Director reports on conference trip
Dr. Hommerding gave a slide presentation on his recent trip to Anaheim, Calif. for the American Librarians Association's annual conference.
He reported on the trending evolution of today's libraries from housing resources to a place where resources are connected.
"So much that is happening in libraries is now extroverted, and that is also going to carry over to a magnetic sense. There needs to be a way for people to come together and connect the resources," he said. "You'll note the expansion area will have changes where there will not be walls and a lot of open space. The purpose of that open space is to enable people to come together more and connect."
In more modern libraries, children areas have become interactive. Some libraries even have gymnasium areas where people can listen to library materials while they work out. Cafes are also part of the trend.
"What we are doing in this expansion is totally in sync with what we have learned," said Hommerding.