May 30, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterA leaky roof, more books and staff raises were included in the increased budget requested May 13 by representatives of the Fremont County Library System.
In total, outgoing library director Matt Nojonen requested $194,000 more money for the upcoming fiscal year when he met with the Fremont County Commission this month. The increase would bring the library system's budget to about $2.85 million.
In the written budget request, Nojonen stated personnel issues were the library system's highest priority.
"Our staff is just falling farther and farther behind based on inflation rates and based on what the state retirement agency is going to ask employees to contribute," Nojonen told commissioners.
To address his staff's financial needs, the library director asked for a 2.5 percent across-the-board salary increase as well as larger merit-based raises for two employees. He also requested that a part-time custodian be hired for the Fremont County Library Lander.
Together, the adjustments would add $72,000 to the library system's $1 million payroll.
Water seeping into the Riverton branch of the Fremont Count Library System is the second priority listed in the request document.
"Water has continued to penetrate the interior, run under the building, create hazardous ice conditions on sidewalks and overflow directly down the masonry, causing freeze/thaw damage to walls," the written proposal stated.
A letter from library facilities manager Tom Norwood described staff attempts to fix the seepage over the past 17 years, but Norwood said the problem keeps coming back.
Fixing the problem would likely cost more than $250,000, qualifying it for funding from the county's Capital Improvement Project-Long term budget, which is formulated through a separate process according to the document.
Actual repairs are not included in the budget for the upcoming year, but library officials say they need about $12,000 to study the problem to determine its size and how much it would cost to address.
Commissioner Doug Thompson asked about previous studies of the leaks, and Nojonen said past investigations did not address all of the problems.
The third priority for the library system has to do with its collection of books, magazines, videos and other items for patrons.
"If you don't have good material for people to use, new material, that's kind of defeating one of the main purposes (of a library)," Nojonen said at the hearing.
During his two years with the library system, Nojonen said his materials budget has gone up by 16 percent annually. This year, his proposed budget asked for $14,000 more for the collections budget, up from $81,000 in the current budget.
The Commission will continue discussions through June and propose a budget on June 30. The board plans to hold a public hearing on the budget July 8, and commissioners will finalize the county's financial plan July 9.
Get your copy of The Ranger online, every day! If you are a current print subscriber and want to also access dailyranger.com online (there is nothing more to purchase) including being able to download The Mining and Energy Edition, click here. Looking to start a new online subscription to dailyranger.com (even if it is for just one day)? Access our secure SSL encrypted server and start your subscription now by clicking here.