County Plans To Withhold Library Funding From City To Benefit Rural Branches

October 9, 2012

Escambia County has a new plan to ensure that the West Florida Library branches in the county — including Century and Molino — are open the same number of hours as those in the city of Pensacola.

Escambia County provides about 70 percent of the funding for the library system, while the Pensacola acts as library administrator. With the passage of a fiscal year 2012-2013 budget, Escambia County cut their library contribution by 5-percent or $165,000 from the previous year.

The West Florida Library responded by cutting operational hours by one-third, reducing part-time employees by 30 percent, subscriptions by 15 percent and book purchases by 85 percent.  The new Molino Branch, set to open this fall, will be staffed by personnel from the Century Library, while the Century Library will see hours cut by 40 percent. The library system now hopes to stock the shelves at the Molino Branch with duplicates from within the system and donated items.

Now, County Administrator Randy Oliver says the county will withhold a portion of their funding for the library system in order to hire the city’s library employees to fully staff libraries in the county.

At the next county commission meeting, the purchase order for library funding will be up for a vote. It will give Oliver the authority to reduce the appropriation by the amount necessary to provided staffing to all library branches in the unincorporated areas at the same level as the branch in the city with the greatest operating hours.

“My plan is if the city does not achieve equity in branch hours of operation, the county will hire their library staff part time to fill in the additional hours and deduct the cost from the appropriation,” Oliver said.

In a letter to Pensacola City Manager Bill Reynolds sent at the request of the county commission, Oliver took issue with the Century and Molino branch hours being cut to just three days per week each when they are 20 miles apart. At the same time, the Westside Branch and the Main Library are about a mile apart and both are open six days per week.

“We believe the City, serving as Library Administrator, should take actions that are in the best interest of the library system as a whole. This includes operating branches at times that provide¬† the greatest opportunity to properly serve library patrons,” Oliver wrote in his letter to Reynolds.


16 Responses to “County Plans To Withhold Library Funding From City To Benefit Rural Branches”

  1. PSU1Earl on October 10th, 2012 7:50 am

    Trish, got it right… I live in the Molino area and my family uses Tryton, but will be using Molino… The city library numbers are skewed because they are the only other choice… with the limited hour Tryton may be still my only option because of work hours… the crazy thing is them cutting the book purchases by 85%… What do they think is suppose to be in a library? Homeless people? ha ha…

  2. Melanie on October 10th, 2012 6:55 am

    As a Century resident, we need and use our public library full-time. Thanks to Mr. Oliver for your support and to William for the editorial. Anyone know when the next county commisioner meeting is and is there a public forum?

  3. M & M on October 9th, 2012 8:26 pm

    We know the city pays taxes to the city. Thats what you do when you are a city.
    Better check all the facts. Most of the county buildings are located in Pensacola
    since it is the county seat. Alot of county money goes into Pensacola, so what is wrong with a little falling back to the rural areas? If we have jury duty what do we
    do that live outside of Pensacola? We drive to the far end of a county that is 50 miles long. We don’t gripe about that because we choose to live outside the city.
    In case some donot know Molino was once an incorporated town and Century is still. We have worked for years to get a library for this area. It is like a slap in the face to get so close and be denied. Sorry, we are so much of a problem and desire to have oppourtnities for our children, grandchildren, neighbors and all the citizenery of this county no matter where they live.

  4. MolinoLady on October 9th, 2012 12:14 pm

    A good example of consolidation in our government in the libraries!!! There you go. Sometimes it does work but when there is a disagreement it does not work at all. Same with the federal government. It is the ‘boss’ dictates who ‘needs’ what – when he is wrong there is trouble.
    Everywhere I look in this scheme it appears the city gets more votes (it is only one district) than the other four districts. It actually is not exactly a ‘district’ but that is how it all adds up by population.

  5. Trish on October 9th, 2012 10:23 am

    To Bradley:

    We all know that the city is in the county. There is a lot going on that the general public is unaware of. However to deny that the small libraries in the outlying areas of the county are always short changed is ludicrious. We could always examine the fact that at least half of the daily users at the downtown library are the homeless looking for an a/c area for the summer and a heated area to spend time in the winter. Take that number “of users” out of the equation and lets see where downtown stands. I am not saying that the homeless are less important than other patrons but the fact that they come to the main library everyday to utilitze the building for comfort instead of the using resources should be considered instead of just using the number of people that walk through the door then saying “look how many people use our facility”.

    You also have to take into account that a lot of people who use outlying branches also use city branches. Does that make the county branches less important? With this horrible ecconomy I call it being smart to plan your trips and combine areas you want to go to in order to save on gasoline. By cutting outlying branches then of course a committed library user will go to a city facility that is open more hours therefore increasing that libraries numbers of users which in turn “justifies” their being open more hours. Sounds like a visious cycle to me.

  6. HopeThisWorks on October 9th, 2012 9:49 am

    I hope this move works and doesn’t become a shoving contest between city and county.

    William, THANK YOU for bringing this issue to our attention! Your vigilance has served us well.

  7. dw on October 9th, 2012 9:23 am

    JJ Johnson
    I don’t know if your comments were rhetorical or frustration or both. In reality those who live within any cities incorporated area due indeed pay tax for services that are county wide. The reason is one of structure. Areas of a county become a city when such area incorporates. That decision translates into the city paying more for what they want. Escambia/pensacolal could solve this conundrum through consolidation
    (VERY different that Charter). Only citizens can cause this action, not ‘da gubment’
    Then tax cost is reduced.

  8. JJ Johnson on October 9th, 2012 8:43 am

    Can Pensacola secede from Escambia County and keep the $18,000,000 in property taxes the county spends outside the city?

    Can Pensacola become an independent city and keep all the local share in sales tax collected inside the city? After all, well over half the sales tax collected in Escambia County is collectd in Pensacola, but the county government gets to spend 83% of it on capital projects, all outside the city.

    The answer to both of course is no. Too bad.

  9. Bradley on October 9th, 2012 8:38 am

    All of the branches are in the county, including the ones in the city limits. City residents pay twice. The hours were reduced at all branches, probably based on usage. If the County wants the brand new branch at Molino fully staffed, they should fully fund the library instead of putting the money in reserve.

  10. Jane on October 9th, 2012 7:31 am

    Thanks to William for this and to Randy Oliver for his attention to this matter! It is about time the north end got some of the tax money we put into the system directed into this area!!!

  11. Carolyn Bramblett on October 9th, 2012 7:09 am

    What pleasant news.

  12. Reader on October 9th, 2012 7:06 am

    Thanks for the editorial last week. It appears you got the attention of Escambia County and have kicked butt against the downtown crowd. If you missed it, here it is

  13. Libraries Are Much More Than Books on October 9th, 2012 6:56 am

    A heartfelt thanks goes to William.

    If not for your coverage and the simple way you clarified for all to read, no one would’ve given a second thought to the miles between rural branches vs Pensacola branches.

    Know we know why he was chosen as the most influential citizen!

    Thanks, William, for looking out for the northend of the county. It’s an awesome place to live!

  14. Cheryl on October 9th, 2012 6:14 am

    Apparently two can play this game. Kudos to Randy Oliver for doing the right thing. Let’s see if our County Commissioners follow suit.

  15. Northender43 on October 9th, 2012 5:54 am

    Hoorah!!!! Sounds like Mr Oliver may read NorthEscambia. If this actually happens we all need to stand up and applaud him for actually listening to us up here. I agree with well, These could be the best libraries in the county.

  16. well on October 9th, 2012 5:13 am

    And when this doesen’t work withhold all funding that goes into the city branches. The county branches could be the best in the country with that much money!!!

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