LETTER: Explaining Evart library fundraisers

TO THE EDITOR:
For those of you who wonder why the Evart Public Library has been holding fundraisers the past few years this is a bit of an explanation. A district library is funded by penal fines, millage, contracts with various townships and state aid. Donations and grants are used for special projects and cannot be counted as part of the projected budget. Over the years we have doubled in size as our service area grew, the demand for more and better services increased and more people depend on the library to pick up the slack as other agencies have been forced to cut back. We staff the library with one full time person and three part time people who work on alternate days. The museum and genealogy department is run, for the most part, with highly trained volunteers. To further trim the budget several years ago, wages were frozen, Board members gave up their stipend for serving on the board, staff hours have been cut, hours open to the public were cut, and no new programs have been started. State Aid cuts hurt libraries the same way they hurt schools, police departments and city government. Every year we get less. Penal fines are the fines paid into the state coffers from traffic violations and re-distributed back to libraries on a per capita basis. In 2005-05 penal fines were roughly $60,000, in 2008-09 they were $54,000, and in 2010-11 they were $38,000. The explanation given from the court system is that as police departments are forced to cut staff and reduce road patrol fewer arrests are made and when defendants get to court they are assigned community service instead of monetary fines because they have less money anyway. Judges have a great deal of discretion in deciding the actual amount of fines and court costs which result in a fluctuation. As a result of the recession people are paying fewer property taxes as values have decreased. In the meantime, cost of maintenance, heat, electricity, books, magazines, and technology continue to rise. Thank you for your support and tremendous outpouring of good will toward the library.  

Evart Public Library Director Lilas VanScoyoc and the Evart Public Library Board