A funding crisis at the Indian Valley Public Library prompted a library official to plea to Upper Salford supervisors at their April 10 board meeting to help keep the library afloat.
Linda Beck, a representative of the library board, said up until this year the library, located in Telford borough, saw 50 percent of its municipal funding coming from the Souderton Area School District. The six municipalities that make up the district funded the remaining 50 percent.
As of 2013, the school district will no longer be contributing anything - a decision made recently by the current school board. The district’s contribution was approximately $440,000 and their decision to no longer contribute creates a major shortfall. According to Beck, that shortfall will be felt with the library’s 2014 budget.
As a result, the library board is asking the six municipalities if they would double their current contributions to fill the gap. Beck cited a study that was performed throughout Montgomery County which noted that Souderton was the last district that contributed anything to library funding. In other locations, the local municipalities ended up having to double their contributions to fill the shortfalls created when school districts pulled their public library funding.
Supervisors’ Chairman Kevin O’Donnell and Vice Chair Theodore Poatsy informed the public that Upper Salford is the only one of the six that does not have a line item or tax for library funding. Upper Salford’s $35,000 contribution comes from the general fund.
During the discussions it was brought up that residents from neighboring Hatfield and East and West Rockhill townships use the library even though they’re located out of the school district. Supervisor Richard Sachs asked Beck about initiating a service charge for out-of- district residents.
Beck’s replied that “Up until five years ago, the library was reimbursed $70,000 by the state to compensate for those residents. That program was eliminated by the state five years ago. Additionally, if we don’t allow those residents the opportunity the use our facilities, we will also risk losing our $100,000 basic state funding.”
When asked by another resident how the township plans to raise the extra funding, O’Donnell answered, “The board has not discussed the issue as of yet and answering that question at this time would be premature.”
Beck stated that Lower Salford Township has agreed to double their contributions and issued a challenge for the remaining municipalities to do the same. There was no action taken on the issue and it is tentatively scheduled to be a topic for further discussion at the May supervisors meeting.
In another matter, the board voted to approve a motion, at the request of the Upper Salford Fire Chief Paul Schneider, to issue a ban on all open burning in the township, effective immediately. The ban was issued due to extremely dangerous dry weather conditions and will be in effect until further notice. Firefighters have responded locally to several field, brush and woods fires over the past few weeks.
The ban will be posted on the township’s website, as well as on the sign board in front of the firehouse.