FCPL Board reviews 2017 budget, discuss Byles’ term renewal

The board of trustees of the Forrest City Public Library reviewed current budget issues on Monday for its November meeting.

The board approved the minutes from the September meeting. There was not a quorum for the October meeting, so there were no minutes to be approved. Board member Judy Sweet made the motion to approve, and the vote was unanimous.

Arlisa Harris, FCPL director, presented the library's 2017 budget and expenses to the board. According to information provided by Harris, the library's current income is $140,942.84, and the expenses for the year so far are $194,772.67. Harris pointed out that some of the expenses were costly but necessary, such as library maintenance and electrical work.

According to Harris, the library's checking account was low last month, and $25,000 was transferred from the investor's account. Harris said she spoke to board members before the transfer, and the city clerk was informed and was not concerned about the transfer.

"This is a first since I've been here. The account has never gotten this low," Harris said.

Sweet asked if there would be any penalties for transferring the money, and Harris said there would be none.

Harris said the library has increased the amount of programming it offers since last year, despite the decrease in state aid. She said she would add grant money into the next financial report she presented to the board.

Eva Pickett, board member, motioned to approve the library's finances and the vote passed unanimously.

In new business, the board discussed the end of board member A.O. Byles' term, which ends in December. According to Harris, Byles was appointed to fill Marshall James' board position in 2016.

Board chairperson Lindsay Hodges asked Byles if he would be willing to continue as a board member. He said that he would not oppose returning if the board did not have any other candidates.

"I don't have an issue with coming back, but I don't know if the board had plans for someone else before I took Mr. James' board position. I don't want to deny any opportunities to anybody if there were other plans," he said.

Hodges and Harris said there were no other candidates for other board members. "I think it's up to you to decide if you want to continue with us. That's where we are now. We would like for you to stay  on, but if you cannot, we understand. The ball's in your court," Hodges said.

Byles said he would continue as a board member, and Harris said she would contact the mayor to inform him of the decision.

Board members serve five-year terms.

The board then discussed awarding year-end bonuses for library staff. Harris proposed giving library staff $1,000 and $500, depending on their employment status.

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"Usually, the city votes to give city employees a year-end bonus. They were thinking about $500 bonuses, but they don't have anything concrete. Normally, it's  $1,000 per full-time staff and $500 per part-time staff. In two months, we spend about $30,000 in personnel. We have $35,000 left in personnel. It would take $4,000 to pay three full-time employees and two part-time employees these bonuses," Harris said.

Concerns were raised about how the bonuses would affect the library's budget. Sweet said, "We're cutting it pretty close with the salaries. Do you take the expenses out of the thousand dollars before you cut the check?"

Several board members said that taxes would be taken out of the employees' salary and would not affect the library's finances.

Sweet made a motion to approve the $1,000 bonus for full-time staff and $500 bonus for part-time staff. The motion passed unanimously.

The next piece of business was a bid for computers. Harris submitted a bid from CDW•G for 12 Lenovo computers. She said seven computers would be for library patrons' use, and five computers would be for staff use.

The total cost for 12 computers and monitors would be $12,225.27. The public computers cost $658.63 per unit, for a total of $4,610.41; the monitors cost $111.71 per unit, for a total of $781.97. The staff computers cost $804.13 per unit, for a goal of $4,020.65; the monitors cost $239.39, for a total of $1,196.95.

"It could be done cheaper. You could go and order something from Walmart or Amazon, but these are sturdier, better quality computers," Harris said.

Byles made a motion to accept the bid for new computers. The motion was seconded by Eva Pickett, and the vote was unanimous.

The board members discussed what would happen to the current library computers once the new computers were installed. Sweet suggested donating the computers on a need-based, first come-first served basis. Harris pointed out that they had done this the last time the library had purchased computers. She said mainly churches and social organizations contacted the library about the computers; the remainder were sold for a small amount.

Harris addressed the decrease in state aid, attributing the decline in money to a decline in county population. The library's state aid is determined by population size, Harris said.

According to Harris, the library previously received $10,371 in state aid each quarter. Now the library receives $8,747 each quarter in aid. This is a decrease of $1,624 per quarter, and a yearly decrease of $6,496 of aid.

Harris updated the board on the memorial tree project. She said that the spot for the tree has not been selected but that she hoped it would be in front of the library. Hodges agreed, saying, "I would like for it to be some place where people can see it and get out of their cars and to look at it."

Harris mentioned that the library's new website has been online for about two weeks. The new website allows people to reserve books, check out e-books and contact library staff. "Aesthetically, it is much better and is much more user-friendly," Harris said.

Board members heard updates about several library programs, such as the community chili cook-off and the canned food drive.

The chili cook-off is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 18, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the library's back lawn. For the canned food drive, people can donate cans to the library, and these cans will go to the St. Francis County Food Pantry. Each can is worth $1 off of library fines, up to $20.

The next library board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 18, at 4:45 p.m.