The Manchester Community Library — community hub to so many — has now been in operation for just over a year and the enormous increase in usage by community members of all ages further validates the efforts of so many who have worked so hard to bring this Town asset to fruition.
This 21st-century building, constructed entirely with private funds and at no cost to taxpayers, has become a key community asset and a contributor to Manchester's economic development goals, providing a host of services for community members regardless of age, economic circumstance, or educational level.
As the treasurer of the MCL, I am writing to inform the taxpayers of Manchester that we have completed our budget review process for fiscal year 2017. While many municipal libraries are 100 percent funded by the public, the Manchester Community Library employs a unique funding structure that relies on both public and private revenues in order to sustain its operations. Of the funding derived from the public, it is important to note that the taxpayer share, as a percentage of total operating revenue, is declining, as we have worked diligently to diversify and grow other revenue streams. That said, like other organizations, we are confronted with normal inflationary pressures and we also are facing the demands of accommodating substantially increased facility usage.
Each year we have to sit down and take a hard look at our budget, trimming, squeezing and looking for efficiencies wherever possible. We go through this process with the goal of crafting a fiscally-prudent budget that is both sensitive to the existing demands being placed on taxpayer dollars while providing the adequate resources to maintain services to the community. In that process, we have been able to limit our FY17 municipal appropriation request to $207,900. This represents a 5 percent increase (or $9,900) over our FY16 year's appropriation, which was also the same appropriation in FY15. This represents a 2.5 percent per annum increase between FY15-FY17.
As members of this community come together on February 27 to debate and discuss the important fiscal decisions that will affect this town for the next year, the trustees of the Library would like to provide some illuminating numbers for consideration:
•the new Library has added 1,330 new memberships in the last year alone,
•we have had 348 facility rental uses by over 50 community groups,
•the Library's 13 public-use computers were used 5,977 times, and the free Wi-Fi was accessed 7,592 times
•we have seen our electricity and fuel bills drop by 38 percent thanks to the new energy-efficient construction
I anticipate members of the community may have some more probative questions concerning this appropriation and/or other MCL budgetary matters and I would like to make myself available (as well as Linda McKeever and Betsy Bleakie) to answers any of these questions.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we hope you will agree that your support of the MCL is as much an investment in this library as it is an investment in the future of this town. Please vote YES for our appropriation request on March 1 at the polls.
Stephen Drunsic is the treasurer of the Manchester Community library's board of trustees.