The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Features

February 25, 2014

Lyons library branch will cease operating

CLINTON — The phone rings again Monday morning in Library Director Amy Birtell’s basement office at the Clinton Public Library. For the last week, since the Clinton City Council approved a $40,783 cut of her budget, it’s been ringing “non-stop,” Birtell says.

At 10:30 a.m., she already has four messages, and she’s pretty certain what about.

Clinton’s Lyons Branch will cease operations, helping the city save $260,161 in its overall budget. Birtell said she’s optimistic the space can be used in a “community center” capacity. Conversations about what will happen to the Lyons Branch will take place this week.

”We are still in terrible economic times,” said Birtell, now in her third year as director. “It’s going to affect the cities as well.”

The cut allows Clinton to reduce its property tax levy to $16.32 per $1,000 in assessed valuation. It’s the largest reduction of any department in the general fund, beating out the vacant city attorney office’s $40,310 cut. The rough savings per property owner equates to just over $13 annually.

”With these reductions, we’re going to be hurting as a city,” Birtell said. “If we’re going to reduce property taxes as well, that’s going to be less money to operate with and to pay off our debts.”

Clinton’s most expensive departments — police and fire — account for more than 64 percent of the city’s total operating budget. They received $5,160 and $6,500 in cuts (respectively), enough not to reduce personnel.

The library runs a distant third for operating costs, accounting for 7.2 percent of the general fund. It was one of two departments to receive a five-figure slash. Since this impacts Lyons Branch operations it jeopardizes the four part-time staffers it takes to run the facility. It costs roughly $30,000 annually to staff the branch.

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