The Forest Park Public Library will host a meeting June 27 at 7 p.m. during which officials will be available to answer questions from residents regarding its budget and past spending habits.
The meeting, to be held in the Austin Meeting Room on the library’s lower level, will serve as a follow-up to a November meeting during which many residents aired their frustration with some of the library’s recent spending and personnel decisions.
Mayor Anthony Calderone, who moderated that meeting, promised a follow-up meeting to give residents a closer look at the library’s spending. Next week’s meeting will be moderated by library Board President Andrea Blaylock, according to library Director Rodger Brayden.
“We’re just going to lay the information out on the table and people will draw their own conclusions,” said Brayden.
He was careful to emphasize that the meeting is not intended to bolster the case for the referendum that the library will be seeking in the November election. Library staff members are legally prohibited from campaigning for the referendum during paid hours or from using their status with the library to bolster the case for a referendum.
The referendum would allow the library to increase in its property tax funding from .234 percent of every hundred dollars of equalized assessed valuation (EAV) to .346 percent, a hike of just over 32 percent. The extra funding would allow the library to increase its spending on circulation and salaries by 20 percent, according to Brayden.
“This is not intended as any kind of a rebuttal [of past criticism],” he said. “People asked for information and we’re making an effort to provide the information.”
The library’s budget for the current fiscal year is just over $731,000, about 90 percent of which comes from property taxes. The remainder comes from state grants and service fees.
Though the previous meeting was conducted in a roundtable format, Brayden said this meeting will consist of a presentation followed by a question and answer period.
The library is located at 7555 Jackson Blvd.