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Martinsburg Public Library to reduce hours slightly

July 04, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The Martinsburg Public Library will not have to reduce its hours of operation by as much as expected as a result of the Martinsburg City Council's decision to reject the library's offer to voluntarily take a 10 percent reduction in funds.

Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Libraries Director Pamela Coyle told the County Commissioners in May that the four-library system's board of directors decided to return 10 percent of the property tax revenue that state law requires the Berkeley County Commission to give them in the next two fiscal years.

After reaching a similar agreement earlier this year with the county's board of education, the library board decided to offer both the financially strapped County Commission and the City of Martinsburg a similar 10 percent return of their portion of funding.

In the new fiscal year that began Tuesday, the amount of money returned to the county commission would amount to almost $70,000, Coyle said previously.

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In the last fiscal year, the commission and school board each were required to contribute $668,285 toward the library system's $1.8 million budget. The City of Martinsburg's appropriation was $113,265.

All three funding reductions would have resulted in a need to reduce, by 12 hours a week, operations at the library system's largest facility in Martinsburg, Coyle said previously.

Because of the city's decision not to accept the funding reduction, library officials said they would be able to limit the reduction of hours at the Martinsburg Public Library to eight a week, Coyle said.

As a result, Martinsburg Public Library will be open Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., instead of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Coyle said.

"I'm just really pleased with the response of the city," Coyle said.

The reductions, in effect for the next two fiscal years, will mean cutting two full-time and three part-time staff members, Coyle said. Job vacancies were not filled to accomplish the staffing reduction, Coyle said.

The library board also did not increase the amount of money it budgeted for book purchases, Coyle said.

"The purchasing power is a lot less," Coyle said.

The decision to reduce hours on Wednesdays and Fridays came after officials determined that those nights have the least amount of foot traffic, Coyle said.

Coyle has said she hoped the agreements with the library's principal funding entities provide enough time to address the controversial funding mandate in a state law passed in 1970 that applied only to Berkeley County.

The current formula requires a portion of anticipated property tax revenue generated through levies for the school board, city and county governments to be given to the library system.

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