Create a Budget for the District

Determine the cost of the new district. This can be difficult to do, but if you have an existing library in place then you do have some idea of the costs of running the library. You will definitely have to include your current budgetary figures plus additional money for pieces that the county and/or city might be paying as well as additional money for new services. You might find it helpful to examine the statistics for libraries serving similar size populations. The State Library publishes statistics for Montana public libraries annually. Average expenditures per capita are calculated for libraries in various size categories. Multiply this per capita figure by the population being served in the proposed district to figure out what a typical library of that size spends for service. Additional costs to consider include:

  • costs of an annual trustee election and an annual audit of the library's budget
  • bookkeeping
  • building costs if they are assumed by the district - which includes lease or purchase, repair and maintenance, utilities, snow removal, landscape, janitorial services, etc.
  • personnel administration costs including salaries, insurance and retirement, along with other benefits.

Because we have library districts in Montana you can contact those districts to get an idea of how much they pay for the above items.

If the new district will have to purchase, build, or extensively remodel a building in order to provide district services, you should include these costs in the total cost estimate as capital costs. Capital costs are the costs of buying or building a library facility. These costs may be raised through bond issues or as part of a depreciation fund. [See MCA 22-1-707]. If there will be major capital costs in beginning the library district, state these costs openly and honestly in any estimate of the district's total costs. (Opponents of the districting effort will certainly include these costs in their estimates, so it's best to be open about all costs.)

The issue of costs is usually one of the most difficult aspects of promoting a new library district. Be open and aboveboard when discussing the costs of a library district and how money will be raised through property taxes, but relate the cost of library services to the value people will receive from those services.

After you have all of this information try to create an operational budget for the district that includes the above expenses plus any revenues from non-levy sources such as gifts, fines, fees, etc. You need to know how much money is required to run the district in order to determine how many mills you will need from a mill levy election.

ASPeN: The New Library Directory

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