With one public hearing remaining before Guadalupe County Commissioners Court is expected to ratify the proposed budget, readers across the county needn’t worry about area libraries receiving less funding.
Earlier in the budgeting process, members of the court floated an idea to reduce funding by about 15% across the board to the three public libraries in Guadalupe County. Things have since changed and the change is a welcome one, said Jacki Gross, director of the Seguin Public Library.
“It’s my understanding that it is in the proposed budget that our funding remains the same,” she said. “Really, really relieved; I’m really relived.”
Any cuts to her already tight budget could have meant decreasing the amount of services the library in Seguin provides, Gross said.
At some point, there was a rumor around the county that commissioners considered cutting 50% or all county funding to the libraries. She was happy to learn that the rumor was untrue, Gross said.
“I heard from one commissioner that they weren’t going to cut all of our funding,” she said. “But even at 15%, that would’ve hurt.”
Commissioners discussed the possible budget decrease during workshop hearings, County Judge Kyle Kutscher said. Many people who live in the county’s unincorporated areas make use of the libraries in the cities, he said.
So the court had not made a move to drastically slash the funding, Kutscher said. Now, after receiving more information, the cuts have been taken off the table for Fiscal Year 2020, he said.
“We didn’t have all the information when we originally talked about it,” Kutscher said. “Once we got all the additional information on the libraries’ budgets, the cardholders, how many people frequent the buildings and facilities, we took, that into consideration and said we really need to leave the libraries funded as is.”
Guadalupe County currently pays $217,152 to the library in Schertz, $36,589 to the one in Marion and $173,742 to the Seguin Public Library.
Kutscher said, however, that the court needs to talk further about future funding at the facilities.
The county uses an outdated formula to determine funding to each library, he said. That funding formula needs to be reevaluated.
But for now things should remain the same when commissioners court holds another public hearing Sept. 17, after which the court is expected to vote to adopt a tax rate and approve a budget.
Things could be different next year and so she and the other library directors need to coordinate, come up with a good plan for funding and present it to the commissioners before the following year’s budgeting process is complete, Gross said.
“Now we have time to come up with a game plan,” she said. “We always go in hoping that we’ll get more money. We hope that we’ll get more money but appreciate the money we get.
“It’s a relief they’re not cutting us this year because we were so late in the budget process that it was going to be hard to make up for that loss.”
Dalondo Moultrie is the assistant managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .