The Madisonville City Council reviewed budget requests from 15 public service agencies on Wednesday as part of a special called meeting in preparation for the upcoming 2021-22 fiscal year budget.
The Hopkins County-Madisonville Public Library has requested a $30,000 increase from $180,000 to $210,000.
Library Director Joel Meador said this request is to return to the funding received from the city in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
“The City of Madisonville decreased the library’s annual funding from $210,000 to $180,000 in 2019,” said Meador, who added that city assistance in forgiving the remaining $20,000 in debt service that the library owed and other forms of financial relief has “been a tremendous help, but significant challenges remain.”
“Beginning with the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the library’s county government funding has decreased from $270,000, of which $208,969 was allocated for the Madisonville main library, and the remaining $61,031 for the library’s Dawson Springs branch library,” said Meador. “Currently, of the $240,000 that the library receives, $174,000 is allocated to the main library and $66,000 for the branch library. Exacerbating funding cuts, the main library still pays approximately $60,000 in annual debt service.”
Last spring, the Kentucky legislature also passed a two-year budget that eliminated annual funding of public libraries.
“That immediately cut $21,900 — $14,600 for the main branch and $7,300 for the Dawson Springs branch — in state aid of which our HCMPL has depended on in the past,” said Meador.
Meador said the COVID-19 pandemic has also hindered in-person fundraising, which has also impacted the already thin self-generated revenue stream for the library.
“Furthermore, in response to the pandemic, and changing trends, HCMPL has greatly expanded access to online content this year, including 10 new online resources with hopes to add more,” said Meador. “These types of 21st century library services are expensive, costing the library approximately $20,000 in a normal year, and are impossible to provide on a 20th century budget.”
Meador said the tightened budget has caused the library to compensate by using reserves, including approximately $50,000 this year.
“Drawing from reserves is unsustainable, and fundraising along with other forms of self-generated revenue are not dependable solutions as the pandemic has shown,” said Meador. “That is why we can only fulfill our mission with strong local government support.”
Meador said the proposed budget proposal will help the library return to a normal operating status and provide the modern library services he said the community desires.
“This includes continued free access to modern online resources for children and adults, basic computer training from qualified staff so that they will have the skills to participate in a post-pandemic economy and resources that help children recover from a huge educational slide,” he said. “In addition to restoring us to our 2018-2019 funding level, this will also help compensate for the loss in state aid and decline in our self-generated income precipitated by the pandemic.”
Meador said the library system has also asked for an increase in funding from the Hopkins County Fiscal Court from $240,000 to $283,000 and plans to request $36,000 from Dawson Springs.
The Hopkins County Family YMCA is requesting $50,000 for the purchase of two “lightly used” 12-passenger vans to replace the two five-passenger vans currently owned by the YMCA.
As part of her presentation, YMCA Finance Director Kelly Bearden told council members the YMCA relies heavily on dependable transportation for both their food and childcare programs. She said both mechanical and capacity issues have plagued services recently.
The Salvation Army of Madisonville is asking for $50,000 to continue their social assistance and Pathway of Hope programs.
“The funding will be specifically on food and associated perishable items, bill payment for utilities and housing costs, providing resources and supplies for family and children assistance and a minimal percentage of labor to administer these programs,” wrote Salvation Army Major Mike Good as part of his proposal.
According to records from the City of Madisonville, there was no funding given to The Salvation Army in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
Other budget increase requests came from:
• the World Changers, who asked for $20,000 for the 2021 Minor Home Repair Program.
• the Hopkins County Joint Planning Commission, who requested $76,996.26, with $17,024.60 of that being in-kind contribution through office space rent and utilities and $59,971.66 cash contribution.
• the Hopkins County Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library asked for a total of $5,000.
• the Pennyrile Allied Community Services requested a total of $180,045 — with $60,000 going toward salary and benefits for the Regional Senior Citizens Center director, cook and assistant positions, $11,000 for the volunteer services and $109,045 going toward the Go Madisonville Transit program that is normally funded in part through the 5311 Transportation Grant and a 50/50 split between PACS and the City of Madisonville.