Print Town Council leery of library requests
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 15 June 2011 12:00

Revenue has increased at the Camp Verde Library, but the Camp Verde Community Town Council isn’t prepared to start spending money to expand operations.

Camp Verde Town Manager Russ MartinThe council reviewed additional budget requests from the library at a work session June 8 as the town’s elected leaders continue to try and hammer out a bare bones budget for fiscal year 2011-2012, which begins Friday, July 1.

Library Director Gerry Laurito asked council for around $3,000 for a copying machine and just over $26,000 for a system that would allow people at the library to check out their own books.

The library doesn’t have a photo copy machine, Laurito said. Laurito pointed out other town departments are looking to replace their copy machines through a lease program, and he was hoping the library could be included in such a deal.

Laurito said he arrived at the $3,000 figure by looking at what the town’s Planning and Zoning Department was considering, but said he felt $3,000 was probably a bit high since it’s doubtful the library would need the same quality of copier as that department.

The larger request, the $26,000 for a self-checkout system, would let the library join with other libraries in Yavapai County for a joint purchase of the new equipment, Laurito said.

The system would be powered by radio frequency identification tags, commonly known as RFID chips. Similar technology is used by many companies to track inventory and reduce loss.

Laurito said not only would such a system make things more efficient for library patrons, a self-checkout would free up staff time for other jobs at the library as well as provide the library with more control over knowing exactly what items are traveling out the doors.

According to a report filed by Laurito, the library lost more than 200 books last year valued at nearly $4,000.

“I think it’s a good project,” Lauito said. “It’s something that will benefit the library patrons.”

caCamp Verde Town Councilwoman Carol GermanSeveral on the council voiced the opinion that while the project seemed worthwhile, a strained budget year due to a decline in sales tax revenue made it the wrong time to upgrade.

Town Manager Russ Martin said the library is bringing in some additional revenue, but it’s still not paying for itself.

Martin pointed out even if the town were to give just an additional $10,000 to the library, it could likely use that money to keep the library open a few more hours instead.

“Frankly, we’re going to need it at some point,” Martin said. “But I don’t think we are there yet.”

Martin said the town is already committed to spend at least $20,000 on books and materials for the community and children’s libraries, due to prior agreements made between the town and Yavapai County library system.

“I have asked to keep that at the same level,” Martin said.

To spend more for materials wouldn’t make much sense, Martin said, especially for a library that’s already “busting at the seams.”

As to the question of whether the Camp Verde Library Endowment could pay for such requests, Councilwoman Carol German pointed out the endowment is trying to raise enough money to keep at least a $500,000 in the bank. Once the fund reaches that point, then the interest generated on the money would be able to handle specific library requests like those brought before council last week.

The final budget has not yet been approved, but council appeared to be opposed to additional funding for the library.