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Shoeleather Journalism in the Digital Age

Shoeleather Journalism
in the Digital Age

Scottsdale tentative budget discussions reveal needs in public library system

A view of a historical document framed behind the local dais were the local issues of the day are debated at Scottsdale City Hall. (Photo by Terrance Thornton/DigitalFreePress.com)
By Terrance Thornton
Digital Free Press

Scottsdale City Council, about mid-may, hosted its regular meeting, adopted its consent agenda and later the municipal tentative budget for the upcoming fiscal year was approved — the $2 billion all-funds budget determines the spending ceiling at City Hall.

But prior to the routine consent agenda approval, Scottsdale Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield asked to pull item No. 20 from the May 17 schedule.

The item outlines, in general terms, an annual report on all things surrounding the advisory boards and commissions filled with local volunteers, staff members — and in some cases, industry experts.

Scottsdale resident, Shiela Reyman, who serves as chairperson at the Scottsdale Public Library Board, brought to the attention of the local governing board concerns she has regarding due process.

“Where are our fellow citizens supposed to get important data about our library system? The City Council meetings are not set up to discuss the library system in detail, that is why we have boards and commissions in the first place. Some have indicated that we should not be permitted to discuss this important issue and that is not within our purview. How is that possible?”

Ms. Reyman points out if nothing changes regarding the library General Fund line item, the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2022, will mark the fourth consecutive year of declining dollars allocated to the local public library.

“A typical collection circulates out in an average of three years. Did someone tell you that?” she asked of City Council. “Were you able to speak with staff about their needs? Remember, the staff submitted a decision packet to the assistant city manager as required. The staff said that they need $550,000 for the materials and that is still below pre-pandemic budget.”

Ms. Reyman explains in December 2021 a letter was sent from the advisory library board to City Hall of brewing funding issues circulating around a need for more physical — and digital content.

Scottsdale, AZ Image
Over Scottsdale, Arizona looking to the southwest at golf courses, resorts, luxury homes and Mummy Mountain in the Town of Paradise Valley. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress.com)

A brief budget perspective

According to the Scottsdale Public Library, fiscal year 2019-20 annual review, in broad strokes, the Scottsdale Public Library budget was made up of $9,063,826 in General Fund monies while the remaining operating budget total was $827,563, which is the sum of efforts through the Friends of the Scottsdale Public Library, grants, donations and the gift shop.

The current fiscal year, Scottsdale Public Library budget is adopted at $8,205,021, according to the budget report available at the city’s website. Also, that record shows the difference between adopted budget line items for the library system at a $336,464 increase in general fund budget allocation.

Scottsdale Councilwoman Solange Whitehead did acknowledge constituents have communicated to her a desire for more readily available popular reads, listens and views.

Scottsdale City Council has adopted its tentative budget meanwhile formal adoption will go through a formal public hearing process later this summer.

“As long as we discuss it at some point, I am fine with that,” Councilwoman Littlefield said following the public hearing she originally opened.

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