Advocacy Fall 2010

I'm sure that all of you know that the County Commissioners could NOT agree on a budget at their last meeting and have scheduled another Public Hearing for this Tuesday, October 12th. The proposed library budget already means Saturday & Sunday closing at Main as well as reduced hours, personnel losses and reduced funds to purchase new books and other materials which will affect the whole system. Depending on the Commissioners vote, the library could take further cuts, cuts which could significantly reduce the libraries ability to help our community weather this economic disaster.

Thank you so much for all of your efforts this year. We need one more push from you. It is important that we get as many library supporters as we can to this meeting. If you haven't yet spoken and can do that, it would certainly help libraries survive.
Date: Tuesday, October 12th
Time: 5:00pm
Location: Governmental Center at 115 S. Andrews Ave
Please make a real effort to come and bring any friends you can. And again, thanks for all of your hard work in support of libraries.

Budget Update

On Tuesday, September 14, the Board held the first public hearing on the recommended 2011 budget. After much discussion, the recommended budget was rejected, and I was directed to go back and identify additional reductions to be discussed at the September 28 public hearing. At that time, a millage rate will be tentatively adopted with a final hearing scheduled on October 5 to finalize the budget.

The 2011 budget that was recommended to the Board reduced property taxes by $56 million even though it required a slight increase in the millage rate from 4.889 to 5.2256. Since 2007, the organization has reduced taxes by $221 million or 23% including those reductions recommended for next year. Still, the Board’s ultimate goal is to keep the millage rate as close to last year’s as possible.

Sitting on the dais, it was difficult listening to the pleas of residents as they shared their struggles to keep financially afloat during these tough economic times. It makes one realize the significance of the impact our services have on a family’s quality of life. Our bus service is at times the only way a resident has to get to work or to a medical appointment and social services are often the “safety net” that saves a family from homelessness. I was quite proud when Susan Myers, Human Services Director, described to the Board the compassion, dedication and excellent work performed by our case managers at the Family Success Centers despite the increased case load due to staff reductions. If you have not seen the County’s Web site on “A Day in Broward,” I encourage you to take a look at all the services we provide on a daily basis. It’s quite impressive.

In stark contrast to those who voiced their concerns about service reductions, there are those in our community that believe we have not worked hard enough to reduce the budget. After listening to the public’s input, I appreciated the opportunity to share our efforts to reduce the budget and to address some of the misconceptions that were voiced.

I feel strongly that, if not for the commitment of our employees, we would not have been able to reduce the budget by $221 million over the past several years. Our employee base has been reduced by more than 1,000 positions since 2007; and, in most instances, we have not been able to reduce the workload. Many of our employees are also struggling with the effects of the economy, yet we continue to understand the need for furlough days and continue to do our best everyday to serve the public with pride.

Since the budget hearing, I have been working with our Budget director and management team to identify an additional $18.3 million in budget reductions, which is the County’s proportional share to reduce the millage rate to last year’s rate. There was much discussion during the public hearing as to how we can reach this goal without further impact to employees. We will do our best, understanding the concern that is felt by all.

Thank you for your continued commitment. As always, I appreciate your e-mails and look forward to moving into the new fiscal year with optimism and a sense of renewed energy that comes from knowing this organization is unsurpassed.

Bertha Henry

The Broward County Commissioners are now setting the budget for fiscal year 2011 which will determine the funding for our libraries. Since libraries have had major budget cuts for the past three years, it is important that we let the Commissioners know how devastating any further cuts would be. Information about County Commission meetings on the library budget will be posted here as well as other ways that you can make your voice heard in support of our libraries.

Here are some critical dates:

Tuesday - September 28, 2010 Public Hearing #2 starting at 5:00 pm at the Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Avenue
More information will be provided as the dates approach.

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