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Board Members Explain Ohio County Library Funding Cut

The Ohio County Board of Education recently voted to reduce its contribution to the Ohio County Public Library from 3 cents to 2 cents per $100 of assessed county property values for the 2021-22 fiscal year. Some members of the community have asked for additional information on why this decision was made.

It is important to note that the BOE no longer has a legal obligation to contribute funds to the OCPL. However, the BOE continues to have a duty to wisely use the public resources entrusted to it for the benefit of the Ohio County public education system — its students, employees, and facilities. As the BOE vote reflects, the majority of the BOE members believe that funding the OCPL at 3 cents ($884,542.83) for next year is not the best allocation of these dollars for the benefit of Ohio County Schools. Importantly, the BOE will continue to substantially fund the OCPL despite the reduction.

The BOE will contribute $589,698.22 to the OCPL for fiscal year 2021-22.

Significant time and consideration by the BOE went into making the decision to reduce the funding. In March the BOE asked the OCPL for three years audited financials. After reviewing the statements, several members of the OCPL Board met with two BOE members and several Ohio County Schools central office employees to discuss the services the OCPL provides that benefit students and their families specifically, in addition to the community as a whole. This meeting occurred several weeks before the BOE voted on the OCPL’s request to fund it at 3 cents. The timing of the vote by the BOE was intended to permit the OCPL ample time to take the reduction into account as it prepared its 2021-22 budget.

The OCPL has significant income. Below are the 2019 numbers as reported on its audited financial statements.

2019 Funding Sources for the OCPL:

– Ohio County Commission, $783,242;

– Ohio County BOE, $766,142;

– WV State Library Commission, $226,403;

– Grants, $2,000;

– Donations and gifts, $14,555;

– Program revenue, $24,470;

– Investment income, $129,706.

The BOE contribution was approximately 40% of the OCPL’s funding in 2019; the current reduction is therefore approximately 14% of the total funding the OCPL received in 2019.

The contributions by the Board of Education and County Commission are not the same every year. Instead, they are based on assessed property values and vary annually. For example, in fiscal years 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, the BOE gave $780,686, $753,394, $766,142, and $799,409, respectively.

For 2021, at 3 cents per $100 of assessed value, the BOE would have given the OCPL $884,542.83 — that is $118,400 more than the library received from the BOE in 2019.

An analysis of the reduction must be viewed in the context of previous years’ contributions.

An important part of the analysis by the BOE was the OCPL’s strong financial position. For 2019 the OCPL had $3,467,513 in cash and marketable securities, total assets of $7,038,821, total liabilities of $345,659, and net change in position of an increase of $250,985. The OCPL’s net change in position increased over the past three years by an average of $414,647. In 2019, the OCPL had $2.3 million in investment accounts.

The reduction in funding from 3 cents to 2 cents per $100 of assessed property values is close to the library’s profit margin in 2019.

It is our understanding that no programming or personnel will be affected by the reduction. With this financial analysis in mind, the BOE reviewed the OCPL funding allocation for next year. We have a duty to ensure the responsible use of the taxpayer dollars that are in our care for the benefit of public education. We regularly review costs to ensure they are necessary and prudent. OCS has over 5,000 students, nearly 800 teachers and staff, and 13 facilities. With a global pandemic and a massive bond project that involves work on all 13 schools, we have taken great care to ensure that we are fiscally responsible, ready for unforeseen costs, and able to fulfill our primary duty to our students, staff, and facilities.

The BOE appreciates the importance of the OCPL in our community and continues to support the OCPL financially and otherwise.

David R. Croft, Molly J. Aderholt and Christine N. Carder are members of the Ohio County Board of Education.

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