Eleven public libraries soon will be able to undertake needed building improvements and other projects thanks to a one-time funding allocation from Sussex County Council.
Council voted unanimously last week to divide $350,000 of the county’s $854,029 budget surplus from fiscal year 2012 among the 11 libraries.
The vote means The Laurel Public Library and the Seaford Library and Cultural Center each will receive $60,000.
The Delmar and Frankford libraries will each get $38,500, while libraries in Georgetown, Millsboro, Bridgeville, Rehoboth Beach and Selbyville will each pick up $24,500.
The public libraries in Milford and Lewes, meanwhile, will each receive $12,250.
“We are aware of the heightened needs our libraries are facing in these difficult economic times,” County Administrator Todd Lawson said this week. “In addition to their traditional role, our libraries also serve an important function as community centers where county residents can find vital information about jobs, so we felt it was appropriate to focus some of the surplus on helping them meet their needs so they can continue to provide that service.”
County officials said the allocations were divided according to a needs analysis conducted by a county-appointed advisory board and Sussex County Librarian Kathy Graybeal.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Millsboro Public Library Director Mary Brittingham said of the added funding. “It seems like everyone is always cutting funding to the things we all love and use, so for the libraries, which provide a free resource to their communities, to receive this money is terrific.”
While the Millsboro library’s board of directors has not yet voted on how to spend their $24,500 share of the county surplus, Brittingham said it likely would be used for general building maintenance and upkeep.
“We just recently replaced our roof, but there are always things that need to be done, such as plumbing and other projects that always seem to come up,” she said.
Elaine Fike, director of the Georgetown Public Library, said the added county funding most likely would be used to purchase and install new exterior doors at the library’s entrance.
“The ones we have now are not automated, which makes it difficult for our handicapped patrons to access the library,” Dottie Teixeira, president of the Georgetown library’s board of directors, said of the project last month.
Fike said the allocations from the county will have a big impact on each of Sussex’s 11 libraries.
“Several of the libraries have building or collection issues and this funding will allow a lot of us to do some projects we probably otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do,” she said.
Page 2 of 2 - Council Council last week also voted to spend another $150,000 of the FY2012 surplus on the county’s Emergency Housing Repair Program, which helps homeowners with below-average household incomes complete heating, plumping, roofing and structural repairs. The program currently has a waiting list of more than 1,250 applicants, county officials said.
County Council previously committed about $320,000 of the surplus toward the addition of four more Delaware State Police troopers, who will be assigned to the county starting in the spring.
The county’s $854,029 surplus was first announced at council’s Jan. 22 meeting.
The fiscal year 2012 surplus represents the third straight year of surpluses for the county.
Actual revenues were $1.4 million more than what the county had anticipated for fiscal year 2012, most due to higher-than-expected income from the realty transfer tax and an increase in sheriff’s sales resulting from foreclosures, county officials said.
Those gains were offset by weaker-than-expected income from the interest generated by investments, as well as the late receipt of a state grant.