JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After years of budgets being slashed, the Jacksonville Public Library is looking at a new way of managing its funding.
The Jacksonville Community Council Inc.
did a study in 2011 and one of the big ideas that came out of it was that the library needed to become an independent tax district.
The chairman of the board of trustees for the library, Jim Selzer, says this is not a new tax, but rather a way of being able to control and plan with the money that comes into the library.
Right now the Jacksonville Public Library operates like any other city department. It gets its money from the city's general fund and is overseen by the mayor and city council.
The budget for the library for 2012 is $38 million. The library's board of trustees and library administration oversees $23.4 million. The City of Jacksonville administers the rest of the money for costs for information technology, maintenance, facilities, payroll and human resources.
The study from JCCI says since 2005 "there has been an increase in these City of Jacksonville costs of 193 percent, from $5.2 million in 2005 to $14.7 million in 2012."
Selzer says the library has had to scale back its personnel and services to accommodate the rising costs and budget cuts. He added the library currently cannot plan more than six months out because they are unsure of the future budget, which is why he and JCCI are recommending it become an independent tax district.
"We can in fact make real improvements in our services to the customers if we are given longer plan horizons and stabilizing funding allows you to do precisely that," tells Selzer.
It was stated several times during JCCI's presentation of this idea that without becoming an independent tax district the library would begin "a graceful degradation of library services."
If the library was to become an independent tax district it would no longer be overseen by the city. Bill Brinton with JCCI says the leaders would be elected officials.
It will take several years for this idea to come to fruition. It will have to go to the Florida legislature first before it is put on a Jacksonville ballot.
First Coast News