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Milner Library board member refutes Seda’s debt figures

By Kay S. Pedrotti Bill Christopher, who generally reports the library financials to the Milner city council, has submitted to the city and The Herald Gazette ‘a set of projections based on a different set of assumptions.’ Councilman Skip Seda had outlined a bleak forecast for large increases in the city’s costs to keep the library open for the current allotted 20-year period of operation. Seda said costs would increase by 10% each year, but Christopher’s forecast is based on ‘increases at the historical rate’ of 2.31% over the 20-year period. Other different ‘assumptions’ in Christopher’s report include: -At some point in time either federal or state legislation will mandate increased minimum wages. -Any significant legislated increase in minimum wages would be phased in. -At some point demands on the library would require looking at increasing open hours. -Any increased demands would be seasonal and could be staffed in part with seasonal employees paid seasonal rates. -Capital expenditures for such items as landscaping, paving, building expansion, etc., should be budgeted separately and funded separately and therefore not included in the cost of operation. State library statistics show that ‘return on investment’ in libraries is $6 for every $1 spent, according to the state of Georgia Public Library website, said Christopher. ’In other words, each patron gets assistance and opportunities worth $6 for each dollar invested by funding agencies,’ he said. As shown in Christopher’s spreadsheet figures, the total budget for the library in 2020 was $79,801.80, and at the 2.31% rate of increase the budget in 20 years would be $184,898.79, not the ‘millions’ predicted by Seda. Georgia libraries received a total of $225,807,139 from governments, including federal, in 2020, the figures show. The amounts do not include separate grants; Christopher says at least 60% of library funding comes from donors, small grants and sales. One of the Milner library purchases from federal funds was for eight Chrome Books which can be checked out ‘“ just like books ‘“ by the patrons, Christopher said.

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