On June 11th, Ellsworth City Council voted unanimously to cut $100,000 from the Ellsworth Public Library budget - a 15% reduction to our overall budget. Library trustees had already reduced the budget by 5% during the current fiscal year. An extra 15% cut is severe and significant. No other city department has been cut at anywhere near this level. In fact, some department budgets are increasing. This proposal cannot become final or there will be severe cuts to programs and services for families – especially during the COVID Crisis.
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If the $100,000 cut goes forward without changes by Ellsworth City Council, the impact to Ellsworth residents will be significant. We will be forced to cut staff and hours significantly. Access to digital services, books and periodicals will be curtailed. Our library is the largest and busiest in Hancock County and is an economic driver for downtown, bringing people from surrounding towns to shop in Ellsworth. We provide assistance to job seekers and free public computer access, vital services during an economic downturn. Library trustees have reduced the budget two years in a row, and there is nothing left to cut except staffing and hours.
The Ellsworth Public Library serves residents of Ellsworth, ME and is only 3% of the overall city budget. We also serve several surrounding towns and we receive funding from many of these towns, but at a much lower rate than the city of Ellsworth pays. Ellsworth Library trustees are aware of this disparity and have a plan in place to address it. Any resident of a town that does not provide full funding to the library will need to pay to receive a library card, and towns will be charged a per capita fee. This funding structure was set to take effect July 1, 2020. Due to the COVID pandemic and the fact that many town meetings were cancelled in the spring, library trustees decided to delay implementation by six months. However, the plan is still in place and it will take some time to diversify our various funding sources.
We currently have about 4,000 active patrons, and 700 of them live in a town that does not fund the library. These people will soon be required to pay a fee with the changes enacted by library trustees, but this will not make up for a $100,000 shortfall. We also cannot significantly raise the amount each town pays all at once without losing town support, especially during an economic downturn.
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Please sign this petition and send an email to the City Council and City Manager to reverse the cuts to the Ellsworth Library. Then, share this page with your family, friends, and neighbors. It’s only by coming together and speaking up for the library and our community that we can make this happen. Thank you!
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