James Johnson, Jr., Chair
900 North Ashley Drive
Tampa, Florida 33602
James Martin, Jr., Vice-Chair
William Scheuerle, Secretary
Phone: (813) 273-3660
Fax: (813) 273-3707
Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library Board
MINUTES FROM THE MAY 28, 1998 PUBLIC LIBRARY BOARD MEETING
NORTHWEST REGIONAL LIBRARY, 4-6PM
Joe Stines, Director
Marcee Challener, Assistant Director
Janet Lorenzo, Chief of Community and Access
Suzy George, Facilities Officer
Jeannie Fletcher, Administrative Assistant
Linda Gillon, Manager of Staff & Administrative Support
Eric Johnson, Budget Director
Dan Klein, Budget Manager
CALL TO ORDER:
In the absence of the Chairman, Vice-Chairman Linda Arnold called the meeting to order at 4:05pm
Rosa Goldsmith conducted the roll call for the meeting.
Library Board Members Present:
Linda Arnold, Vice Chairman
Rosa Goldsmith, Secretary
Sonja Garcia, liaison
Nancy Crippen, Sandra Cameron
Helen Swisshelm, Gloria Abrams
Catherine Cottle, Elizabeth Blue
Library Board Excused:
Arnold Kotler, Dora Reeder
Fred Hearns, Rosa Goldsmith
Kay O'Rourke, Chairman
Library Board Absent:
APPROVAL OF THE APRIL 23, 1998 MINUTES
After corrections were noted by Helen Swisshelm, the minutes were approved as written.
Eastlake Branch Library:
Joe Stines announced that the Eastlake Branch Library is officially closed. The action was approved by the BOCC on May 20, 1998. Although the item was pulled for discussion, it did eventually pass 5-0. In answer to Commissioner Chillura's concerns, Joe said he was able to show that the County could not have built a library in that area for the amount paid in rent over the last ten years. Staff members are weeding the collection in preparation for the move. The Real Estate Department has not obtained a lease from the new owners but one should go to the BOCC the second week of June.
Helen Swisshelm asked whether or not the public had been informed of the closing. Joe said staff distributed flyers and put up signs well in advance. A recording also tells people where to call for information. Bookdrops will be left behind for those who need to return materials.
Joe noted that the College Hill Library is already picking up more business.
Port Tampa City Library:
The dedication is scheduled for June 14, 1998, 3:00pm with Dan Kleman serving as MC. The "Passage of the Book" will be the highlight of the event. Joe encouraged members of the Library Board to attend.
Northwest Regional Library:
A Public Siting meeting for the new northwest regional facility is scheduled for June 17, 1998, 6:30pm, at Gaither High School. Sites under consideration include: Carrollwood Springs, Northdale Park, and Lake Park. Joe said the meeting would be advertised in the paper. Flyers will also be sent to neighborhood associations.
Joe said he and Kay O'Rourke have reservations about the Northdale Park site for the following reasons: 1) too small 2) potential parking problems 3) high cost to purchase from the Parks & Recreation Department.
Helen Swisshelm pointed out that the Lake Park site might have a problem with flooding. Joe responded that he and Mike Kelly have discussed that possibility. Mr. Kelly seemed to feel that the library could be located in the front of the parcel where the elevation is higher. It was agreed, however, that potential flooding problems would have to be taken into consideration.
Sandra Cameron asked if staff members are being affected by the mold at the current Northwest facility. Joe said he didn't think so. The building appears to be stabilized.
Jan Platt Regional Library:
Library staff members continue to meet with the architect every two weeks. The final floor plans are almost finished. Everything is on track so far.
Joe announced that Judith Krug, a spokeswoman for the American Library Association (ALA), would be at USF on June 4 to discuss her plans to educate Hillsborough County citizens regarding the Internet. He said Jan Platt would also be at the meeting. Joe explained that Jan is working with Judith Krug through her association with Phi Beta Kappa. Ms. Krug is interested in spending ALA money on the program. Joe said he and Dr. McCook would work with Ms. Krug as much as possible in an effort to channel the program in positive ways. He offered to brief the Library Board after the June 4 meeting.
Helen Swisshelm commented that Jan Platt is very particular about the role of the Library Board and would be reticent to bring anything before the BOCC that is not generated by the Library Board. Joe agreed.
Joe reminded the Board that Ms. Krug is opposed to any kind of filtering and does not believe chat and games should be blocked.
Gloria Abrams asked what Ms. Krug has done in other communities. Joe responded that Tampa will be her starting point. She will try her program here and then take it elsewhere.
Elizabeth Blue asked how Ms. Krug reacted to the Internet Access Management Plan approved by the Library Board and BOCC. Joe responded that her belief is that children's machines should not be filtered. She is in favor of complete, open access to information for both adults and children. She does not support the use of a special card for children and believes the courts will eventually strike down filtering for adults.
Joe announced that staff members were very pleased to learn that a new version of WebSense has been released. The new version will be capable of blocking by Internet Service Provider (ISP) numbers. It will offer even greater flexibility than previous versions. Joe commented that the Library would probably be able to offer some unfiltered computers for adults.
Joe concluded by saying that he expected Ms. Krug to return in July. He said he would keep the Library Board informed of upcoming meetings.
Helen Swisshelm expressed concern that the Ybor Library is being under-utilized. She asked if staff could do something to bring in more people. Joe responded that Ybor is now functioning primarily as a family literacy center. Helen suggested that something should be done above and beyond the Literacy Program. Joe suggested that the computer lab funded through the Gates Grant should bring in more customers.
Marcee Challener suggested that circulation stats are not the only measure of a branch's usage. Ybor is certainly being used. Gloria Abrams agreed and said that, the more people become involved in the Literacy Program, the more active Ybor will become. It may not show up in the circulation stats but it will be evident in other ways.
Joe announced that the public art for the 78th Street Community Library has been dedicated. Rosa Goldsmith was in attendance. The Friends group also dedicated three photographs on the wall--one of Commissioner Kimball, one of Commissioner Padget and one of the entire Board.
Egypt Lake Project:
Linda Arnold asked if the Egypt Lake project would continue this summer. Joe said "yes--for five weeks." The donation is still waiting in a fund designated for this purpose. This year's program will be a repeat of Phase I.
Joe announced the following important budget dates:
- July 8 - Dan Kleman will present the budget to the BOCC
- July 15 - All day Budget Workshop
- July 22 - Budget Hearing, 6:00pm, BOCC Board Room (Important CIT W/S)
- July 29 - All morning budget meeting
- July 30 - All morning budget meeting
- September 3 - Budget Public Hearing, 6:00pm, BOCC Board Room
- September 17 - Budget Public Hearing, 6:00pm, BOCC Board Room
Joe said he did not expect to see any cuts in the Library millage.
PRESENTATIONS FROM THE PUBLIC AND SPECIAL GUESTS:
Linda Arnold introduced Eric Johnson, Budget Director for Hillsborough County, and thanked him for coming to address the Library Board. Eric said he would like to talk about how Library Services pays for the services it receives from other County departments by reviewing the Cost Allocation Plan and the Indirect Costs embedded in the Library's budget. He said the Library is getting some good discounts on the services it receives.
Eric explained that the Cost Allocation Plan was implemented by the federal government in the 1970's. The intent was to set standards for states wanting to recover overhead costs associated with federal grants. OMB Circular 87 identified a specific methodology. When it appeared to be successful, other governmental agencies used it as a model. The Cost Allocation Plan was an inexpensive tool that duplicated what private corporations do to recover costs. Eric gave General Motors as an example. He pointed out that General Motors has a corporate headquarters and various operating divisions. When the consumer buys a Chevrolet, Buick or Cadillac, he or she pays for administrative costs incurred by Corporate GM even though it doesn't sell a particular product of its own.
Eric said several County departments provide services to other departments. He named his own department (Budget), the County Attorney's Office, Human Resources, Fleet Maintenance and Information and Technology Services as examples. Each of these departments justifies its existence through what they charge to other departments. Through the Cost Allocation Plan, the Budget Department has traditionally looked at a variety of central service functions to see if reasonable costs are being charged. Any costs not covered by direct billing have been made up for through the plan and departments are billed accordingly.
Eric said the Library had expressed concern about the bills from the County's Fleet Department. He explained that Fleet was actually under-charging. The Budget Department used the Cost Allocation Plan to calculate the unrecovered charges and then distribute them fairly among other departments. In other words, the Library Department paid part of the charges due directly to Fleet; the balance owed was made up for through the Cost Allocation Plan.
Eric went on to say that this process is changing for some departments. Fleet is now charging a more competitive rate for repairs, fuel, etc. ($50.00 per hour for repairs vs. $20.00). The Library must now pay a much higher rate but will receive only one bill. The Cost Allocation Plan will not be used to make up for any unrecovered costs. He added that it is up to the Director of Fleet to bring prices down and remain as competitive as possible in the event departments wish to outsource. The Budget Department will help by looking for ways to bring in more outside customers in order to spread overhead costs over a larger number of customers.
Joe asked Eric for clarification regarding the Special Library Taxing District. He said it was his understanding that everything the Library buys is treated like a grant. Library Services vehicles, for example, belong to the Library Taxing District.
Eric responded that the Library Services operates under the accounting rules for government rather than accounting principals used by private corporations. He said a private business depreciates its assets; money is put aside every year to replace items being depreciated. The County does not normally do this. If Library Services needs to replace vehicles, it needs to come up with the cash all at once and this can be hard to do. Large purchases tend to be deferred and repair bills skyrocket.
He said the Budget Department is recommending that County departments look at leasing vehicles from the Fleet Department. Library Services would rent the vehicles it uses but continue to pay for maintenance. After a certain number of miles or years, the vehicles would be replaced to avoid the high cost of repairs. Eric said the Budget Department would be looking at this shift in ownership over the next three years. He assured the Library Board and staff that there is no reason for concern. Service will not be compromised in any way. It should be just as good if not better.
Joe said he has no major concerns about the Library Services vehicles used for making bank deposits. However, he did express concern about the vans used for reserves and deliveries because they are the Library's lifeline. Joe asked if there would be some sort of recourse if the leasing system didn't work or if the Library was given the wrong kind of truck. Eric said: "Yes--any concerns can be brought to the Budget Office." Joe maintained that the Library might also need to look at outsourcing if the cost of leasing is prohibitive. Eric agreed and assured Joe that the Library Services Department would be able to set its own specifications for vehicles and explore options for outsourcing.
Catherine Cottle asked if County departments would start setting aside money for replacement vehicles. Eric said replacement costs would be included in the rental fees. Departments would be given the option of keeping vehicles or replacing them. He also said Fleet would track monies being accumulated by each department for replacement vehicles. Some departments may opt to use older models because of low mileage requirements. Others that can't afford any down time might require more frequent replacements.
Joe asked Eric what other departments are moving in this direction. Eric said Information & Technology Services (ITS) is one. This department already tracks its hours very carefully and bills accordingly. The Cost Allocation Plan looks at the total cost of service, nets out what the department has paid and bills the balance.
Joe asked Eric how Directors would know if a particular department is billing directly for a larger amount or still relying on the Cost Allocation Plan. Eric responded that departments will provide new fee schedules for their services. He said, for example, that Roger Dean would be able to estimate the base level of support. He suggested inviting him to a Budget Committee meeting.
Eric pointed out that documents from 1996 showed that ITS provided the Library with $20,000 worth of services. In time, ITS will disappear from the Cost Allocation Plan because they will have a flat fee for every service they provide.
Eric said that, when ITS starts charging for all of its services, they will probably use a two-tiered structure. One amount will be charged for scheduled projects and another for unscheduled projects, emergencies, etc. This would compensate for overtime hours and extra staff needed to do the job. Eric stressed that ITS would only be looking to cover costs---not to make a profit. Governmental accounting does not permit a department to return a profit.
Joe said the Library pays $160,000 to outsource the maintenance on the DYNIX system. However, DYNIX repairmen get the system up and running in a matter of hours. Eric said that should be the Library's call.
Eric said the Library has been spending approximately $700,000 on indirect costs when the actual value of the services received is almost $1.6 million. This figure covers services provided by all support departments; it covers materials only (no labor). Service provided by Maintenance is calculated by square footage, for example. Eric pointed out that the Library system is one of the largest customers of the Maintenance Department.
Joe pointed out that, in some cases, outsourcing for maintenance has been a better option. The air-conditioning system at Brandon Regional Library is an example.
Joe said there had been concern in the past about the quality of service received for $700,000. He added that everyone wants to feel comfortable that the taxpayer is getting good service at a reasonable price.
Helen Swisshelm asked if services provided by Facilities Maintenance are included in the Indirect Costs. Joe said "yes--labor but not materials." Eric said Facilities accounts for over half of the indirects attributable to Library Services.
Helen Swisshelm called attention to the budget line item for Building Maintenance totaling $638,000. Joe said that was just for materials but qualified his answer by pointing out that a number of large projects were included. The line item for Building Maintenance is not usually quite so high. The figure also includes rollover money and projects that have not been closed out.
Eric and Dan Klein passed out selected pages of the Cost Allocation Plan for the Library Board to review. The summary sheet for the Library Services Department indicated the amounts charged by various departments for services. He went through several of the charges noting that the Library accounts for 4% of all accounting transactions. Joe said the Library generates a large number of transactions for the Clerk's Office because books have to be paid for when they are received by Collection Services. He added that a lot of paperwork is also generated to collect fines. Eric said the Library would need to decide if it is cost effective to collect small amounts of money. He did suggest that charging fines is an incentive for those who might not return the books at all otherwise. The cost of processing the fees may not be recovered; however, it might be more cost-effective than replacing materials. Joe agreed that fines do get books back. He also added that the cost of postage to send out fine statements has been drastically reduced through the use of ENS (the Library's Electronic Notification System).
Helen Swisshelm asked what line item covers janitorial services. Joe said "Janitorial Services" is included in the budget under Contractual Services (Miscellaneous Professional Services).
Helen also asked what Facilities Maintenance charges for. Joe responded that Facilities personnel change light bulbs although the Library must purchase the bulbs. Facilities also employs plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, and painters to make repairs and improvements. Helen said she was trying to figure out what $772,320 buys. Eric did point out that the number of square feet being serviced in the library system was over 475,000 sq. ft. a couple of years ago. More facilities have opened since the report was prepared. Library Services accounts for almost 20% of the square footage being serviced by Facilities Maintenance.
Catherine Cottle asked how soon departments would start switching to the new billing procedures. Eric said it would be gradual. Fleet and ITS will do so in the near future. Other good candidates are departments that can be easily privatized.
Joe asked Eric if the Budget Department looks at other governmental agencies to see how they handle indirects. He said he would like to see a comparison of Hillsborough County and Orange County, FL, for instance. Eric said his department has not done much of that. He said he'd be in a better position to do so in the future.
Joe asked if it costs more to hire personnel for ITS than it would for many other departments because of the degree of skill required. Eric responded that ITS has a problem retaining people because there is a good market for individuals with Management & Information Science (MIS) degrees. He said Civil Service is looking at the pay scales to see if the County is competitive. He suggested that the County may even want to outsource some areas of ITS because the private sector can handle certain functions better.
Eric continued his presentation by talking about the issue of governance. He said, for example, that the Library could hire its own attorney. However, it may be better to use the pool of attorneys available through the County Attorney's Office because there are so many people with different areas of expertise. A private attorney couldn't possibly provide the expertise of a pool.
Helen Swisshelm asked if the Budget Department keeps the Library separate because of the Special Library Taxing District. Eric replied: "Yes--the Library has a separate fund because it has a defined district that pays taxes." Temple Terrace and Plant City are excluded. He added that the Library would always have separate accounting. The .1 mill has also been tracked to see that the money has been spent on the three new facilities it was designated for. After construction is complete, the monies will be used for the operation of those facilities.
Joe said he felt the .1 mill was a good financial plan. He expressed concern for libraries built with Community Investment Tax (CIT) funds as it might be difficult to find money in the budget to operate them without hurting existing branches. Eric said a good standard is not to build anything more until existing facilities are in good repair. He said the BOCC would be looking closely at this in the future.
Linda Arnold asked if there would be funds to operate a facility built through a private donation. Eric said it would depend on whether or not the facility was a replacement or not. In the case of a replacement, the operating costs would simply transfer from one location to another; the books and staff would be moved and costs would not escalate dramatically. Otherwise, it would be a matter of finding funds for personnel, books, computer equipment, etc. He added that the BOCC might be willing to raise the millage, if necessary.
Joe asked Eric if he could bring a proposal to the Budget Department if a donor were found to build a Southeast County Regional Library but a millage increase was needed for operations. Eric said "yes" and added that the Budget Department would take the proposal to the BOCC. He added that he assumed the Library System would not be cutting hours or closing facilities in order to build a new one.
Helen Swisshelm pointed out that the BOCC gave the Library slight millage increases to cover the cost of Sunday hours, evening hours and audiovisual materials. Although the increase was fractional, it went a long way.
Eric pointed out that there has also been a growth in the tax base. According to the Tax Collector's preliminary numbers, there will be approximately $740,000 more in property tax revenue for the Library System this year. The final (July 1) figure is expected to be somewhat higher. Joe commented that the increase does not guarantee that the Library will get everything it asked for in the 1999 budget. Eric said that was correct.
Joe asked if Indirect Costs would be going up in the future. Eric replied that they probably would be higher in the next two-year budget cycle.
Joe said the Library Board has always been concerned about the amount of money held in the contingency reserve fund. Eric agreed that this is a concern to the County as well. Its bond rating is on the verge of going down because of the revenue commitments that have been made. This means that Hillsborough County will still be able to borrow money; however, it will have to pay higher interest rates. For this reason, administration is looking for ways to strengthen the County's financial policies. One way to do this would be to put more money in reserves.
Joe said the Library Board has expressed concern that a rollback in the millage could adversely affect the Jan Platt Regional Library. The Library would suffer greatly if FY98 were followed by a low revenue year. He said the Special Library Taxing District has guarded against the roller coaster ride experienced by other library systems that do not have the benefit of a guaranteed revenue stream. Joe expressed concern and said bad revenue years are very hard to recover from. Eric agreed and said that good revenue years seem to be followed by bad ones. However, he added that the Budget Department would never propose a millage rollback for the Library. He said Mr. Kleman would not support the idea either.
Eric continued by saying that there should be good growth in the tax base this year. This will provide an opportunity to put more money in reserve. He added that the Library System would be in a much better position to consider opening new facilities if it did have more in reserve.
Sandra Cameron asked where funding for a new library would come from. Eric said the Library Board would need to find the money. Sandra suggested that the Library Board might need to approach the BOCC for a millage increase. Eric agreed and said this would be one strategy. THPL can cut something it already has or look for another revenue source.
Helen Swisshelm asked about using CIT funds. Eric responded that CIT can be used for construction but not operating costs so it does not provide a long-term solution.
Joe said it would be important for the Board to speak out strongly about the three main projects on the Library's Unmet Needs List (North Tampa, Lutz and West Gate) as these projects will have a minimal impact on operations but a great impact on service. He said the BOCC would vote on the list. Eric agreed and said it is unlikely that the BOCC will give blanket approval to Mr. Kleman's recommendations. It will be necessary for people to speak out and justify their projects. Eric said the list should come out by July 9 or soon thereafter. There will be almost two weeks for people to react and contact their Commissioners before the July 22 Public Budget Hearing.
Eric said he anticipates that the budget will be heavily oriented toward the capital program and CIT. While funding has been committed for the first 73 months and will be extended for 120 months (ten years), it is not necessary to wait until year 9 to ask for something. The BOCC would need to be willing to do some financing. He suggested this as another strategy for the Library Board to consider.
Joe addressed a question from the Friends of the Library to Eric regarding the need for a new John F. Germany Public Library. Joe explained that John F. Germany Public Libraryis over 30 years old and will be more than 60 years old when the CIT ends in 30 years. A new John F. Germany Public Libraryhas been on the waiting list for quite some time and other projects have always taken precedence. He said the Friends are considering a campaign for a new facility. They are afraid that all funds will be committed by the year 29. Eric responded that there is no way for the BOCC to commit all the money that would be available in the future. The only way to tap future revenues is to borrow. If the County goes to the financial community to borrow now, they will look at how much the CIT will generate today and the County will be able to borrow against that amount. Financial institutions will not consider that the revenue stream could be much larger in future years because of population growth, etc. In other words, there is no way to capture future growth.
Eric commented that he didn't see the local option sales tax being in place five years from now let alone ten. He said he expects to see a substitute. He said more and more is being bought electronically so that taxes are avoided. It is likely that a flat tax will be levied statewide. Eric reiterated that things are changing but there will always be a source of revenue that will grow.
Joe said the Library had been able to make progress in almost every area except one--staff. He asked how the Library Board could make it clear that when Brandon goes from checking out 30,000 items to 60,000 items in one month, more employees are needed. Eric suggested looking at the ratio of reference librarians and other job classes to the population served. Joe responded that the computer is able to provide more statistics now than ever before so this kind of information is available. He said the Library needs to do a better job of communicating that information. Eric suggested showing that the Library is becoming more productive by using technology but stressed that adequate staffing is also needed as circulation increases.
Joe and the Library Board thanked Eric and Dan Klein for coming.
After the Director's Report was finished as recorded above, the meeting was adjourned at 6:25pm
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