Library System's Balance Sheet to be Examined
Township evaluating whether costs of county system are worth it.
It's not been a good month for Warren Public Library. After coming under fire for the handling of a change in duties for the volunteers and the dismissal of two employees, the Township Committee took aim at the costs and benefits of belonging to the county system at its May 3 meeting.
"It looks as if we're paying $1.7 million to the county for the library system, but we're getting $1.8 million back," Mayor Carolann Garafola said.
While committee members agreed that calculation looked pretty good, it did not include the cost of maintaining the library, or the heating and cooling costs for which the township is responsible.
But Deputy Mayor Vic Sordillo, who requested the study several months ago, noted his concern wasn't just whether or not it appeared to be a revenue-producing arrangement.
"My concern was that we have no control over the operations," he said.
The committee requested Township Administrator Mark Krane undertake further study to find out what services the county library system provides, and what the cost to forgo those services might be if the township dropped out of the county system.
Krane also pointed out state law requires a minimum 0.03-cent tax levy to fund library services if a community has a municipal library and is not part of a county system. With Warren's 2011 equalized assessed valuation, this equates to $1.45 million annually for such a muncipal library, but Krane said in an interview after the meeting, the township has not done any analysis of what costs could be incurred if the township elected to leave the county system.
He stressed the actual taxes needed for municipal operation of the library could be higher or lower than the current tax rate with the county system.
"There has been no decision," Krande said. "If we were to go further, there are many more questions to be asked."
Township officials will be further considering the pros and cons of belinging to the system.
This article was edited to clarify the information regarding the minimum tax rate and the township's ongoing analysis of the library.