Money still tight for Brookfield Library

? The library board anticipates needing a loan this fall to pay bills before referendum funding kicks in.

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By BOB UPHUES

Despite a successful referendum that will eventually bring more tax dollars into its coffers, trustees of the Brookfield Public Library will likely need to take out a short-term loan in the fall to help pay its operating expenses.

According to Board President Margaret Blasage, the library will run out of money before fall tax receipts come in. As a result, the library will need a loan of up to $80,000 to cover the shortfall.

"We'll need it for probably a month," said Blasage, who took over as the board president at the board's May 25 meeting. "We will literally run out of money in the fall."

Last year the board was forced to take out a similar short-term loan when tax revenues were projected to come in much later that anticipated. The loan was paid back within two weeks, Blasage said, when tax money ended up coming through earlier than predicted.

The library, in a move to help reduce costs until the new tax revenue kicks in this fall, has cut hours during the summer by closing the building on Sundays. There are also fewer part-time summer workers at the library this year. Staff is also holding the line on materials purchases.

Blasage said that the belt-tightening may be frustrating to residents who expected the successful fall 2005 referendum to quickly bring about long-sought changes and additional programming.

"The public envisions us with the referendum money, but we don't have it yet," Blasage said.

In the interim, Blasage said the board will be studying changes for the library that were identified by a 2004 survey of patrons. The survey indicated that patrons wanted more quiet study areas and more comfortable furniture.

"We will continue planning for that, so that when we do get the money, we'll know how we need to spend it," Blasage said. "Spring of 2006 is when people will see some physical improvements."

The board is also beginning to implement a fundraising strategy for the library. Recently the board joined the Library Community Foundation, a 501c3 organization established to benefit and assist libraries throughout the state. The library can use the foundation as a mechanism to allow people to donate money.

Blasage said that the board is also exploring the creation of a development program to assist in fundraising.

"We need to consider an annual fundraiser and things like planned giving that other not-for-profits do as a matter of course," Blasage said. "Tax dollars are just not keeping up with the cost of services we provide."New library board officers

At the board's May 25 meeting, members voted to elect new officers. Blasage was named the board's president. She replaces Dianne Duner, who will take on the role of vice president. Carol Kissane will be the board's treasurer. Barbara Garvey remains the board's secretary.

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