The Challenge: Budget Cuts Threaten Our Libraries

Sarasota County libraries receive 93% of their annual operating budget from the General Fund of Sarasota County. The balance of library operating funds comes from the State of Florida and private donations made to the County for libraries made in the past.

Sarasota County taxpayers also support the library through the capital budget. The new Shannon Staub Library was completed in November and a new library is currently under construction in Venice to replace the original structure.

The annual operating budget for libraries for FY2018, which began October 1, 2017, is $14.7 million. During the 2008-2011 recession, the libraries’ budget was cut dramatically and has never recovered. To achieve the required recession funding cuts, the Library streamlined its operations in the following ways:

Created a new business model deploying 154 FTE staff at 10 libraries. This is 4 less FTEs than in 2007 when there were 8 buildings.

Added new technologies to make check-out and check-in of materials more efficient. Today, 70% of library users check out their own materials.

Centralized operations.

Implemented a floating collection and added more online resources.

Ceased interlibrary loan service.

Reduced hours each week and eliminated all Sunday hours.

Did not fill staff vacancies and converted some positions to part-time.

The County Commissioners have asked all General Fund agencies to present budget projections that include 11.6% in additional reductions for FY2019. For the current fiscal year, the Commission chose not to increase the millage or public service tax last October. Budget discussions for the next fiscal year (beginning October 1, 2018), will begin on January 30 and will continue until a balanced budget is passed in June.