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Library to Close on Sundays Due to Budget Shortfalls

Board of trustees make decision based on declining revenue; director says odds are high library won't reopen on Sundays in the future.

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. 

Dell Paxton January 22, 2014 at 09:05 PM
You didn't mention Kevin Nedd. I should have made it clear the comment mentioning him was not directed towards you.
Directionally Correct January 22, 2014 at 09:16 PM
No problem. But I did check he was the gentlemen that last an election a few years back. What I noticed was that you must be a renter because there in no Dell Paxton on the Washington Township tax roles . I've rented in town for years also.
Dell Paxton January 22, 2014 at 09:19 PM
"Dell Paxton" isn't my real name. He is a character from one of my favorite movies. Again, I own a home in the town.
Directionally Correct January 22, 2014 at 09:29 PM
Makes sense. Stay below the radar. Even as a anonymous renter you have rights. That way your hiding from public scrutiny. Hopefully no matter who you are come to the meeting on Feb 4th.
Dell Paxton January 22, 2014 at 09:33 PM
In my case anonymous property owner. But I get what you are saying.
Directionally Correct January 22, 2014 at 09:40 PM
All good Dell Just show up at meeting Feb 4th. Keep it on the down low like your hidden identy. Shhhhh we all know you have owned property in town for 25 years (wink wink)
Repub1926 January 22, 2014 at 09:59 PM
You guys need to grow up. The issue here is the library and its cost. Most of its customers are kids, which we have a few thousand less than we did 5 years ago. Let's get the damn thing scaled back to help taxpayers. I remember back when it was voted on. Lets vote again. It is clear this board running it can't manage a million bucks. Lets see what else we can do with a million bucks. No ideas???
Dell Paxton January 22, 2014 at 10:04 PM
Repub...Library funding is state mandated based on the equalized value of the town. The amount can't be scaled back arbitrarily.
Dell Paxton January 22, 2014 at 10:35 PM
Repub....The childish insults have no place in this discussion. Why do you say the library is becoming famous for wasting taxpayer resources? According to its most recent Annual Report, the WTPL had over 100K patron visits and more than 70K virtual visits (internal and external web hits). Can you name another township resource used more by residents?
Dell Paxton January 22, 2014 at 10:51 PM
Here's an interesting tidbit...the township spends more to account for deadbeat property owners who don't pay their taxes ($1.4 million), than it does on the library ($970K). If these deadbeats paid on time, we could keep our library open on Sundays and give everyone a 14% local tax cut!
Directionally Correct January 22, 2014 at 11:05 PM
Past due taxes??? The properties are worth much more than past due taxes. Let them give them to town and we would make money!!
Directionally Correct January 22, 2014 at 11:05 PM
As a renter Dell no need to worry about past due taxes. Dell would you like me to tell details of the the Nedd story. Easy to find. Just go to meeting on feb 4th
Dell Paxton January 22, 2014 at 11:10 PM
SandyP: I own a home in town and pay property taxes (on time I might add). You are the one who stated they rent. I'm not interested in anyone's story, yours included. I'm interested in the library remaining open on Sundays.
Repub1926 January 22, 2014 at 11:11 PM
Curious why "Dell Paxton" and "Sandy P" are so instantly furious in defense to the suddenly and curiously absent "Kevin M. Thread" (thread being more accurate than pipe cleaner arms). At any rate, the library is a waste of taxpayer dollars. E-books and Kindles have replaced this, and the kids it used to serve have disappeared, 3000 t0 1600 in a few years...we have more school buildings and school libraries than we need. Plus, some pro-library types can't even pick up a book with those threads! lol!
Dell Paxton January 22, 2014 at 11:20 PM
Assuming kids counts as residents, you make a great case for a 10% reduction in the town budget. How soon will I see a reduction in my local taxes? On my last tax bill, excluding the library, local taxes increased; all the others fell or stayed the same.
Directionally Correct January 23, 2014 at 06:33 AM
I agree Dell the main thing is to get library open when it can help most people. Weather your a renter, late taxpayer, anonymous poster, old or young. We should all have what's best in mind for the community and taxpayers. If you need details of the past committeemen story Dell, I can send you a google docs link. Need to know address. Not fair and too messy to post in public.
Liberty January 23, 2014 at 08:56 AM
A little off-topic here?! Could we forget about Nedd and just be grateful he's quiet, or so it seems. (How can something be too messy to post in public when it's public record?) Let's concentrate on the LIBRARY CLOSING ON SUNDAYS.
Directionally Correct January 23, 2014 at 08:59 AM
I agree.
Hookerman January 23, 2014 at 06:23 PM
Anyone who states that the library is waste of tax dollars, or is a relic from past, obviously never goes into the library. I went there just last evening, and it was very busy. What I almost always see there is students working on their studies, and that is what is most disturbing to me concerning the Sunday closure... students will not be able to use the library on the day that they may need it most. If nothing else, volunteers who keep the door open on Sunday would still provide these kids with a quiet place to concentrate, which they may not have that at home.
Dell Paxton January 23, 2014 at 06:38 PM
I hope all this gets resolved at the Feb 4 meeting of the WTPL BOT.
Directionally Correct January 24, 2014 at 06:29 AM
All worked out. Library committee did a great job I heard from an insider at town hall. I guess we will all find out Feb 4.
Dell Paxton January 24, 2014 at 09:16 AM
There is no such thing as a "library committee". The problem is not "worked out". Whoever spoke at town hall is wrong. Beginning next week, the library will be closed on Sundays. The next meeting of the board of trustees isn't until Feb 4th.
Directionally Correct January 24, 2014 at 12:35 PM
Wait untill the Feb 4th meeting. I think we will all be surprised.
Dell Paxton January 24, 2014 at 12:42 PM
It should be not a surprise when an organization does what it's suppose to do in the first place.
Shoeless Joe January 24, 2014 at 01:09 PM
Correct, Sandy, the Sunday library issue has been worked out. This now officially returns the color of the pee-wee football uniforms to the top of the Gadfly Drama Parade.
Hookerman January 24, 2014 at 01:12 PM
Can you share how it has been worked out???
Dell Paxton January 24, 2014 at 01:16 PM
He can't share because it hasn't been worked out. The BOT hasn't even approved a budget. It doesn't meet again until Feb 4th. SandyP and Shoeless Joe are simple spreading falsehoods.
Directionally Correct January 24, 2014 at 02:08 PM
Dell will be correct or I will be correct. Let's wait too find out Feb 4th.
Dell Paxton January 24, 2014 at 02:15 PM
Sandy, it's not about being correct. It's about being honest. Claiming a 'solution' has been found when the BOT hasn't even approved a budget is misleading and disingenuous. Claiming to be 'in the know' is a fraud we have all seen before.
Dell Paxton January 24, 2014 at 02:18 PM
Btw...I have confidence the Director and the BOT will solve the issue. But to claim a solution is already in hand is simply a lie you tell all too easily. Perhaps Jason can chime in and contact the Director, get a statement, and publish a quick story on where they currently stand.

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