Scarborough Public Library met with City Council Finance Committee

Courtesy of Scarborough Public Library

SCARBOROUGH —The Scarborough Public Library had a budget discussion with the city council’s finance committee on Tuesday.

At the April 19 finance committee meeting to review the FY23 budget, Library Director Nancy Crowell and Board Chair Bill Donovan discussed plans for expanding the library. shared with the community in anticipation of a bond application in November 2022.

The library’s budget review reflects normal operations through June 2023 and the improved virtual information and programming skills that have been developed during the pandemic. Library Directory Nancy Crowell said the library has discovered during the pandemic that there is a strong response to offering information and programs virtually and will continue to offer more virtual programs in the future.

“We had a budget discussion with the city council’s finance committee on Tuesday. We answered questions about the construction project,” said Nancy Crowell, director of the library. “The library is resuming in-person services. It’s been quite a room for all of us and it’s a great feeling to see people in the building with and without masks, but we’re resuming in-person programs and outreach services. Our budget reflects what, in quotes, could be declared a normal year. We are back to full service in terms of programming, staffing, collections, everything we were able to do three years ago was back in cycle.

Increased budget factors for the library include utilities including gas and electricity, building repairs increasing with the age of the building, and loss of payroll protection program revenue

“I’m very happy to mention that we have another stamp this year,” Crowell said. “We were fortunate for the past few years to receive a payroll protection program grant and which is now rescinded, but we received an employee retention credit which is part of the federal program available to us and which we became available later in the CARES Act cycle when they made it available to institutions, it (also applied) to part-time staff members. As a result, we have $157,000, almost $158,000, which we are literally receiving right now. We received the first two out of four checks in the last week, and we will apply this credit to the budget for the coming year. It’s really important because the PPP has created an artificial revenue stream and having an extra year’s buffer source is really going to be invaluable to us.

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Crowell said the library responded to community needs and scored the highest overall satisfaction level of any category in the community survey that was distributed to residents last fall. Areas where the library received less satisfaction were related to space constraints and age-specific programs. These issues are addressed in the building expansion plan.

The CIP request for library expansion is set at $13 million. A bond question asking for that amount, proposed to be on the November ballot, would, if approved, cover construction, fees and administrative costs. Bond interest was not added to the estimate.

“I put two numbers in the capital improvements budget based on the years in which these expenses would occur together they were about $13 million. It will be a board request to allow us to commit in November for $13 million bond,” Crowell said.

If the bond referendum passes in November 2022, the library is expected to move into temporary space during construction. Construction would begin in the fall of 2023. Additional temporary relocation costs will be paid for through private fundraising.

Library expansion projects have been underway for over 15 years. The library is looking to accommodate Scarborough’s growing community, which means more space and new services. The proposed addition would provide an additional floor and 22,000 square feet to the building’s footprint. The expansion would allow the library to have more reading nooks, meeting spaces, an improved computer lab, activity space for young and old, and much more.

The library will meet again with the finance committee on May 10 when capital expansion and improvements will be the focus of discussion.

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