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Press Release: 2007 Budget Advocacy

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LIBRARY SYSTEM ADVOCATES FOR MODEST FUNDING RESTORATIONS IN 2007 AND URGES COMMUNITY TO VOICE SUPPORT FOR IMPROVED HOURS AND SERVICES

- Proposed Library Budget Remains Stagnant for Third Year in a Row; Restorations Would Cost the Average Household Only 62 ¢ More Per Month -


Buffalo, NY -- County Executive Joel A. Giambra has recommended flat funding for the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (B&ECPL) for the THIRD year in a row, proposing a 2007 Library Property Tax levy that remains unchanged at $21,671,833. Since 2004, Erie County's fiscal crisis has cost the Library System $7 million or 25% in annual County support, and the current recommendation before the Erie County Legislature is actually less than the total allocation received in 1997.

“In 2006, with reduced hours, fewer staff to carry the load, curtailed programs and service and far too few new titles to satisfy the demands of library users, we have simply exhausted all avenues,” said B&ECPL Board Chair Rebecca Pordum . “Continuing down this funding path will cause irreparable damage to this institution and to the thousands of individuals it serves on a daily basis. We need more than the current recommendation to successfully sustain this Library System into the future. Not a lot more, just enough to get back to the fundamental levels of service our constituents need and deserve.”

The B&ECPL has proposed a four-tier restoration package. For an average $100,000 taxable value property, the monthly cost of these request tiers range from 7 cents per month to allow libraries to meet minimum New York State standards to 22 cents per month to strengthen existing libraries in higher population centers. At present, some libraries are not open enough hours per week to meet New York State minimum standards. Based upon County provided support, as many as 12 libraries are at risk in 2007 and beyond.

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“Should all restoration requests be approved, the additional monthly cost for the average household would be about 62 cents,” said Director Michael C. Mahaney . “For less than the cost of a regular cup of coffee or a candy bar, our community can benefit from increased, more convenient hours and additional services and resources.”

During an online survey the Library conducted this summer, 85% of participants believe the Library deserves a restoration of some Erie County property tax funding -- from as modest an increase as $5 more per year to as much as $25 or more per year, based on the average property tax assessed on a $100,000 dwelling. Of all those who believe restorations are in order, 68% believe the increase should be at least $25 more per year. This is nearly 58% of total respondents.

“We are asking all Erie County residents to take five minutes during the next few weeks to voice support for libraries,” added Mahaney. “On lunch break, while stuck in traffic, after the kids go to bed, at dinner with friends or as a class or service organization project, please devote a few moments to spreading the word about the Library's need for additional funding. Contact your Erie County Legislator, and let him or her know that your library location deserves enough open hours, staff, programs, collections and services to meet your needs and those of your neighbors.”

Advocacy resources, contact information and sample letters are located on the B&ECPL's website, www1.buffalolib.org.

For more information, call 858-8900 or visit www1.buffalolib.org.

The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library System is dedicated to connecting Erie County's diverse communities with library resources that enrich, enlighten and entertain.