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|Library construction projects expected to prompt shortfall|
The Ouachita Parish Public Library System expects expenditures will exceed revenue in the 2009 fiscal year due to the construction of two new libraries.
Library director Cheryl Mouliere presented the proposed 2009 fiscal year budget to the Ouachita Parish Police Jury's finance committee late last week.
She said expenditures will increase in 2009 to fund construction of the two new branches, but the library system's expenditures did not exceed revenue during the 2008 fiscal year.
The parish will have two new library branches built, with construction expected to begin sometime in 2009. One will be located in Richwood; the other one will be built in western Ouachita Parish.
The police jury agreed last year to spend $4.8 million on the construction of the two new libraries.
The library board of control has asked local architect Bill Land to redraw the design plans for both new libraries.
The police jury would first have to accept those plans before construction could begin.
Mouliere hopes both projects will be let for bids by March.
The library board of control wants both branches to each feature 10,000 square feet. Depending on costs, the two branches could be 8,000 square feet, Mouliere said.
"We have a certain amount of money, and we have to live within that amount that we've got," she said. "If the 10,000-square-feet buildings are over that amount, then we'll go with the 8,000-square-feet buildings."
Both branches will be identical buildings, but there will be some differences in the designs due to different landscape at each site.
In October, the police jury agreed to increase the millage rate for parish libraries to 7.50 mills, which will generate almost $6 million. The library system's millage rate was 7.38 mills, which generates some $5.6 million annually.
The proposed 2009 budget has a beginning fund balance of $9.6 million, and an ending fund balance of $5.8 million.
Revenue during the 2009 fiscal year is expected to increase to $6.8 million compared to $6.7 million in 2008.
Expenditures will increase in 2009 to $10.6 million. Expenditures in 2008 were $6.6 million.
Pay raises for library staff in 2009 will include a 3 percent across-the-board increase. That represents an $83,265 increase compared to the 2008 fiscal year.
Roughly 68 percent of Ouachita Parish residents possess library cards, Mouliere said. Compared to other library systems of similar size in the state, Ouachita Parish Public Library hosts more library programs, and boasts more library visits at its branches.
"We bring in more attendance than anyone because of those programs," Mouliere said.
During 2008, Ouachita Parish had more than 91,000 people attend its various library programs. The next comparable library system in Louisiana is located in Calcasieu Parish. That library system had about 61,000 people attend its library programs during 2008.