Library Tax? System Leaders Want Discussion

Jun 25, 2010

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library board members gave final approval Thursday to keep all 20 current branches open, but at reduced hours. Board Chairwoman Robin Branstrom says she was thrilled the city of Charlotte and towns pitched in to prevent more closures, but she doesn't want the library to be in the same limbo next year. Library officials plan on forming a task force and one of the topics will be to find more sources of revenue. County Manager Harry Jones said next year will be worse than this year. And it's been a pretty hard year for the libraries. They lost more than a third of their budget this year, even with the contributions of suburban towns and the city of Charlotte. Library board chairwoman Robin Branstrom doesn't want a repeat of this year. The board has decided to form a task force to figure out a plan for the libraries. At the top of its agenda is how to find more money. "We need to find some more revenue sources. We need to have some more stable governmental funding and also do a lot of research into foundation and private funding," she says. Branstrom says one of those sources could be a designated tax for the libraries. Libraries Director Charles Brown hopes the task force will be able to take a wider view of how the library system is set up. "We really need to decide what's the optimum size, the optimum mechanism for funding and really working to bring all the party's involved in this study together and agreeing on that outcome and conclusion." Brown says the task force may well have to consider how to function on even less. For now that means the 20 remaining branches will be open four days a week.