Hike funding

Greensburg Hempfield Area Library Evaluates Funding Options Amid Revenue Uncertainty

The Greensburg Hempfield Area Library expects increased funding under the recently passed Pennsylvania budget, which includes an $11 million increase for public libraries in the state.

Although the amount has yet to be determined, it will be a welcome increase for the library at a time when it has lost a $53,000 annual rental fee from the State Department of Revenue and faces the prospect to lose an additional $15,000 if the Borough of Southwest Greensburg ends its 1-Million library tax support.

“We operate on a minimal budget,” said library director Jamie K. Falo. “We will really have to look at the budget in October. Our budget is so tight right now that we might consider reducing library hours while still meeting the number of hours we need to get state money.

The revenue side of the library’s $785,000 budget includes $179,000 from state coffers and $138,000 generated from $1 million in taxes levied in Greensburg and southwest Greensburg specifically to support the library.

The taxes were approved by referendum in 2018. Now Southwest Greensburg officials have suggested letting voters there decide — again, by referendum — whether to repeal the tax.

Falo said library officials appreciate that the municipality’s funding priorities may have changed in the four years since the levy was enacted. She said local tax revenue has helped meet a variety of library needs, including book purchases, staffing and utility bills.

“We’re very conscious of our budget and sticking to it,” she said, adding that lost revenue “just forces us to work harder to try to raise more money.

“We are proposing new ways to raise funds and are exploring additional grants.”

The library has partnered with its counterpart in Delmont to land a grant for a program that will teach children skills in robotics and digital literacy, she said.

A committee is due to meet next week to consider ideas for new fundraising activities.

As the covid-19 pandemic continues to produce new virus variants, Falo said: “Having things outside I think is useful now. We talked about having food trucks.

“We are now trying to reach a wider audience,” said Kimberly Tuscan, the library’s communications and marketing coordinator.

Two biannual fundraisers typically bring a total of $35,000 or more to the library, while a fall libations event brings in about $25,000 and a spring bingo event contributes about $15,000.

The book sales, featured quarterly, typically fetch around $1,000 each, but the most recent sale exceeded expectations, bringing in $2,500.

Falo said the library spent all of the federal pandemic recovery funding it received, which helped cover the costs of protective equipment and technology while allowing the library to retain its eight full-time and eight part-time employees.

A $748,000 grant from the state Department of Education paid half the cost of a renovation project that is ending at the library. The project provided new lighting and a new traffic office while improving accessibility. But most of the changes happened behind the scenes, upgrading the 1911 building’s mechanical systems to meet today’s standards.

Another committee is considering options for using the 3,100 square feet on the second floor of the library that was vacated in January after the state Department of Revenue moved many of its employees to work remotely from home and terminated its lease for the physical tax office.

“We’re thinking about renting it out again or creating some kind of library space, possibly for training and workforce development,” Falo said.

Jeff Himler is an editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .