Niles District Library to approve fiscal year 2022 budget

NILES — The next year will bring the Niles District Library new cosmetic improvements, according to its proposed 2021-2022 budget.

Tuesday, the Niles District Library Board hosted a public hearing on its fiscal year 2022 budget. The proposed $1.3 million budget will officially be approved at a 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17 meeting.

“We again have a balanced budget,” said Executive Director Steve Compoe. “The main difference you will see in this year’s budget is more investments in our building in the general fund.”

One of the major projects budgeted is a new sign and logo for the library, which board members expect to be unveiled this fall. Other capital improvements budgeted for the next year include: repaving the front parking lot, repainting the first floor, adding parking bollards, and sealing and restriping the lot between the library and the Chapin Mansion, among others.

“We want people to be excited about the new look and feel the library will have,” said Board President Martin Klubeck.

As the library’s budget is millage funded, Compoe said the fiscal year 2022 budget was not greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, one area COVID-19 did affect the budget was in penal or late fines. Compoe estimated the library lost $30,000 in revenue from a decline in penal fines.

“Penal fines are a big fundraiser for the library, and we took a hit there,” Compoe said. “We had to make some last-minute adjustments for this current fiscal year to accommodate that hit, and preemptively, I have adjusted down our forecast for penal fines for next year in the hopes that we will receive more than we are planning on.”

Though penal fines decreased, Compoe said library subscriptions, which can be purchased by those living outside of the library’s service area, increased by roughly 20 percent. Conservatively, Compoe expects $3,700 in subscription card revenue over the next year.

Also driven by the pandemic, Compoe said the library would be hosting more virtual services in the next year.

“Our programs are probably going to be a hybrid format from here on out,” he said. “We adapted well during the pandemic.”

Now that COVID-19 restrictions have been eased, Compoe said the library is seeing a steady return of patrons. He said the library is seeing between 65 and 70 percent of its pre-pandemic patrons per month.

“We are gradually increasing,” he said. “We are starting to see more and more people back in the library.”

Compoe said he was excited to see residents back in the library, and he was not the only one. Several members of board also expressed excitement and optimism that the library would soon be back to where it was pre-COVID-19.

“We are so excited to have patrons back in the library,” Klubeck said.

The Niles District Library serves the city of Niles and Niles Charter Township.

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