Homer’s Library Advisory Board has been trying to figure out a way to either reduce the Library’s roughly $900,000 budget or find additional funds. The Homer City Council tasked the panel during the budgeting process last fall to find ways in which non–Homer residents could contribute more.
Library board Vice Chair Marcia Kuszmaul explained about half of all cardholders live outside of the community. Homer and area residents support a large portion of the budget through sales taxes, but city residents account for about 30 percent by way of property taxes.
“That’s been the dilemma of how to equitably fund the library with public funds across a user base that’s both city and non-city residents,” said Kuszmaul.
The library board presented several options to the City Council Monday, ranging from charging fees for non-residents to a establishing a dedicated sales tax. However, one of the more popular options with the advisory board was paying off $1.1 million on a long-term loan for the current building.
“One of the thoughts we had is why not pay off that balance and we would save about $1.3 million by paying that off in interest. That would reduce the annual library budget by about almost $100,000,” Kuszmaul added.
The panel suggested those funds come from the city’s permanent fund, which only brought in about $25,000 in 2016. Councilmember Catriona Reynolds liked the idea.
“The city’s money may well be put to better use by paying off a 4 percent loan rather than gaining 1 percent in investment, and I think that was very appealing,” she said.
There has been talk of dissolving the permanent fund and allocating its $2.2 million towards capital projects such as renovating the fire hall and building a new police station. The conversation over how residents outside of city limits can contribute more has been ongoing, dating back to 1995.