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From the Director: Budgeting for the Future

From the Director: Budgeting for the Future

May 27, 2021

Budgets are truly a wonderful thing. I’m completely serious! I know that for some, the word “budget” evokes a vision of pages of numbers, or perhaps an endless spreadsheet with incomprehensible formulas. However, as one of my professors said, “A budget is a planning and values document.” And with a mission-driven organization like the Library, a budget is more like a promise between the organization and the people it serves (you!). When you consider it that way, a budget really does sound like a wonderful thing!

Mid-Continent Public Library has just finished its Proposed Annual Budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year. I’d like to highlight a few points from the proposed budget:

  • MCPL will budget $12.1 million for library materials, or 21.6 percent of the budget. The national average for other libraries of a similar size is 12.9 percent. This is important because it means more materials for you to borrow!
  • MCPL has ranked first among all libraries in allocating funds for electronic resources for many years. This strategy was vital in helping MCPL provide exceptional service during the pandemic with valuable online resources like Live Homework Help from Tutor.com.
  • Making good on our promises, MCPL continues to make progress on the Capital Improvement and Replacement Plan. This plan was part of the vision endorsed by voters in 2016. As we start this new budget year, 31 of the 35 projects are complete or underway! 
  • MCPL will complete all the transfers necessary to finish the Capital Plan. This does not mean the Library has paid for the buildings—there are still 17 more annual payments scheduled to retire debt.

In addition to developing a budget, another important task is to demonstrate how we calculate our property tax levy (the primary source of revenue). The Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri (RSMO) have laid forth a very detailed process for this task, including setting a time to receive comments about the levy rate during a public hearing.

The Library’s Finance and Audit Committee will hold a public hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 3, 2021, at MCPL’s North Independence Branch. Interestingly, there is no requirement in RSMO to receive comments on the budget itself, but it has become MCPL’s practice to receive budget comments during the official hearing on its levy rate.

A budget is more than numbers. A budget is an important roadmap, a strategy, and a promise.

Steven V. Potter
Library Director and CEO

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