Editor’s note: This is the eighth installment in a series focusing on the different departments within the city, their needs and their revenues as city officials have started the process of formulating the budget for the 2020-21 year.
YORK – During their recent budget meeting, the city council members, administration and department heads reviewed each department’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year.
When it comes to the library’s budget, most capital expenditure requests are based on projects and positions that were either eliminated a few years ago or just didn’t happen.
“We are already down one full-time employee, which was cut a few years ago,” Deb Robertson, library director, explained. “I just want to fill that vacancy now.”
She has suggested filling the open position with two part-time employees to save on pension and benefits.
She also noted that $50,000 was budgeted this year for the HVAC system (the replacement of the heating/cooling units) – which will carry over to 2020-21 if that project is not completed this fiscal year. This project was put on hold due to the pandemic – but Robertson reminded the council that it still is necessary and will continue to be.
And it was noted that the book budget was slashed a few years ago, from $70,000 to $28,500.
“We are getting more requests now for books because we haven’t been able to buy many,” Robertson said. “We will take any little bit we can get, as that cut is starting to show.”
One high priority budget proposal is spending money to replace and repair the concrete walkways around the perimeter of the building, including supporting the column foundation. Robertson explained that the building has settled, causing the perimeter concrete to pull away from the building, causing uneven pavement and cracks alongside the base of the building where water and other debris enter the foundation. She said the footings/foundation for the exterior supporting columns are in the same condition and need to be repaired to maintain sufficient support for the roof. She said she worries that this is both a public safety and facility support concern.
She would also like to include the cleaning and painting of the decorative sandstone façade and columns around the building. She said the sandstone surface has absorbed moisture and dirt, creating a discolored and dirty appearance. Robertson said in her budget request that this surface needs to be cleaned, sealed and painted to stop further damage to the surface.
Robertson is also encouraging the council to approve a budget that includes a project in which the brick flooring in the entry and vestibule areas is replaced. She said there is a fault line crack through the entire building from the west to the east. “This project will need to include fixing the issues with the foundation/support of the building. This estimate includes having a structural engineer evaluate the cause of this issue prior to doing the work. The brick flooring in the vestibule and entry of the building is cracking and deteriorating to the point of having trip-hazardous holes in the high-traffic area in the front of the main service desk.” She also noted that if this project takes place, it might require closing the building for a few days to allow for safety.
Looking to the future and fiscal years yet to come, a priority project continues to be replacement of the library’s roof. Robertson explained in her proposal that the library roof was covered with a second layer of material in 1993. The roofing material that was used had an expected life of 20 years. In 2020, the roof turned 27 years old. “We have experienced leaking around columns in the public area of the building and along walls in staff work areas,” Robertson said. “We are on borrowed time for this roof work.”
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