Washington Township’s public library will be forced to shut its doors on Sundays beginning Jan. 26 due to budget shortfalls.
Library director Jacqueline Zuzzi made the announcement late Wednesday after months of discussions with the board of trustees. Rising costs and declining funding were too much for the institution to overcome, and the decision came down to staff cuts or reducing hours.
The library receives one-third mill which is the equalized valuation (the true value of real property) times .000333333 to fund its operations from Washington Township property taxes. In 2014, the library will receive $938,920 based on that formula, Zuzzi said.
The library also receives state funding in the form of per capita state aid, which accounted for little more than $8,000 in 2013.
“We just don’t have the money,” Zuzzi said Thursday morning. “Something had to give. Odds are high we won’t be able to open on Sundays again in the future.”
The tipping point came in the 2014 budget projection, which showed the library will receive $25,096 less than it did in 2013. It’s a continuation of a downward trend over the past four years, where the library has lost $176,824 in funding in that time.
“We’ve reduced costs over the years but we’ve gotten to a point where we can’t make ends meet,” Zuzzi said. “It’s disappointing. But it would also be irresponsible of me to cut back programming or book or media purchases. That’s what we’re here for.”
Sources of additional revenue for the library come from fine collections, paid programs, and donations. “We’re so grateful for the donations, of course, but it’s obviously not enough to make up for the $176,000 we’ve lost in the past few years.”
The library currently has five full time staffers, including Zuzzi, which is down from seven when the director took the position in 2009.
Sundays were chosen as the day to close for a number of reasons, but the biggest of which was that staff was being paid time and-a-half to work between 1 and 5 p.m. at the library. Staff cuts were made, which led to the closure of Sundays.
The library’s largest budget item is staffing, but the organization also pays for its own services, including landscaping, snow removal, and building insurance, Zuzzi said.
“The board is very committed to the library,” Zuzzi said. “But we’re funded at a minimum rate and have to work with what we have.”
The final open Sunday will be Jan. 19. Regular hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the library would receive $333,333 from property tax funding in 2014.