Rhode Island Library Report
PROVIDENCE (June 13) The Taveras administration hopes to increase funding to the Providence Community Library, which operates the city’s nine branch libraries – but only when the city’s finances improve enough to boost other municipal services as well.
David Ortiz, spokesman for Mayor Angel Taveras, said that there’s no indication how soon an uptick might be. The city's finances have been desperate this year and unusual steps were needed to raise new revenues and cut employee costs.
Ortiz, in an interview with the Rhode Island Library Report on June 12, said the 10 percent cut in branch system’s allocation was part of an overall effort to trim city spending, and that the administration supported the city council’s later effort restore some of the money.
The administration and the council worked cooperatively in fashioning a budget that would “move Providence forward,” he said. “The council took the initiative to identify a way to restore some funds that the PCL was slated to (lose), and the administration was supportive of the initiative.”
The branch system, in the budget that ends June 30 year received $3.5 million from the city, but that was reduced by about $355,000 in the proposed spending plan. PCL officials said that with the system already running as lean as possible, the scope of the cut might have forced a temporary shutdown this summer, perhaps by rotating weekly closings among the nine branches.
Further, the cut was seen by PCL as threatening all or some of the annual state grant-in-aid that the branch system gets, which this year totals more than $784,000 and is a key element of the system’s nearly $4.8 million budget. State law requires communities to maintain at least current levels of spending to qualify for aid, which then is calculated as a percentage of municipal library support.
But with the backing of council members, including Terrence M. Hassett, the council’s finance committee on June 5 restored $150,000 of the funds by transferring money out of the public works capital improvements account.
Ortiz was noncommittal as to when the library allocation would grow.
“Like all budgets, the administration, the city council and the internal auditor will monitor city finances closely,” Ortiz said.
“In future years, as the city’s fiscal situation improves and allows us to grow the economy and grow jobs in the city, we look forward to providing more support to the library” and other services residents expect from the city, he said.
The full council approved the budget, with the added library funds, June 11.