To the Editor:
After digesting the article written last week about the Moffat County Libraries, I think the "spin" the commissioners are trying to put on the library finances needs to be stopped. For all of you who don't understand the library board's concern about continued library services in Moffat County, please consider these points:
1.) For the past three years the board has been working on accumulating a reserve for three months payroll and operating expenses as well as what we felt might be necessary to replace old heating and air conditioning units in the three libraries, and keep old buildings in good repair. Not only should this be considered a financially responsible thing to do, but the state statutes say that counties should have at least three months payroll and operating expenses in reserves at all times. If the county commissioners had been financially responsible over the past six to seven years, we wouldn't have to worry about our libraries staying open, county TV being turned off or our county departments running understaffed.
2.) The commissioners are telling people that there is nothing to worry about. The library has $300,000 in reserves which will tide us over. The thing they fail to mention is when that "reserve" is gone, and the mill levy stays at 1.3 or even 1.5,we will run out of money in the middle of 2005. They have not and cannot guarantee that the mill levy will be raised back to where it needs to be to have a fully functioning library system in this county. Even if our mill levy is raised sufficiently for the year 2005, where will the money come from to replace a furnaces or furnaces, before our reserves are built back up.
3.) The library is the only county department that has an account balance at this time. The library board has made all of the budget cuts we have been asked to make over the past three years and in August our mill levy was cut .2 mils. We really hoped the commissioners would see that the library board had done it's part in helping the County out of hot water.
Our Craig library is terribly understaffed, and even before the latest proposed mill levy cut of .58 mils, we were discussing library service cuts and our only other option would have been to use our reserves. Given the county financial situation and the capital expenses we expect to incur, that didn't seem like an option at the time.
From the commissioners' comments appearing in the paper last week, your library system is being penalized for being fiscally responsible, therefore putting your three libraries in jeopardy within the next two years.
As far as I know, a county resolution has not been passed, officially lowering the library mil levy, so there is time for patrons to voice their opinions and concerns.
And, if you talk to your commissioners, please don't be appeased by their spin on this issue.
Please remember that they haven't done much to earn your trust up until now.
Can you trust them to give you the straight scoop in this very serious matter?
I have written this letter as an individual library board member and my opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Moffat County Library Board as a whole or of any other individual board member.