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Library has more to spend on materials

Thanks to some frugal budgeting, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library will have more for library materials this year than last year.

The library board voted Thursday to allocate $555,485 in unspent money from its 2005 budget toward books and materials in this year's budget, said Chief Financial Officer Kenneth H. Stone.

With that additional money, this year's materials budget stands at $2.5 million. That's 10 percent of the library system's total operating budget this year, up from 8 percent.

While that's still far short of the national average for comparable library systems, administrators said the increase is a step in the right direction.

"Fund raising is still very important," Stone said.

Overall, the library system ended its challenging 2005 budget year in the black by keeping a lid on expenses despite nearly $23,000 in unbudgeted revenue losses, Stone said.

The library system's fund balance declined modestly from the start of 2005 to the start of this year.

The remaining savings stand at about 10 percent of the library system's $25.3 million operating budget for 2006.

In other news:

The board formally asked for more input and involvement regarding reorganizational changes being considered by the Library Foundation, which has served as the library's main fund-raising arm for years.

The foundation has refused to share details of its restructuring discussions since the group's executive committee met privately last month to talk about the foundation's mission and unimpressive fund-raising role since the Erie County budget crisis began.

Shortly after that meeting, the foundation moved out of its rent-free office in the Central Library without explanation, library administrators said.

The foundation board's next meeting is scheduled Tuesday, the first time the entire board has met since last August.

The board agreed to waive the annual $40 library fee charged to noncounty residents who live in the Gowanda Central School District if district residents support a resolution in May to expand their school taxes to include support for Collins Library.

"We didn't want to tax them twice," said Executive Director Michael Mahaney.


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