How PILOT (didn’t) help the library

I’ve been assembling some PILOT figures while thinking about a response to Jim Kersten’s comments. (Full disclosure: Jim and I attended high school together and I like him on a personal level.)

I wanted to see how PILOT has helped keep the library up and running, so I looked at the part of the library budget that is paid for by the city (as opposed to the part that is paid for by the state, which funds some library staff as well as the Talking Book Library).  Here’s how things have been paid from FY09-FY12:

  Paid by Tax Levy Paid by PILOT Total Amount % Increase/ Decrease
FY09     4,796,705.03   –      4,796,705.03  
FY10     4,443,827.74      80,000.00    4,523,827.74 -5.60%
FY11     4,293,155.32    250,000.00    4,543,155.32 0.40%
FY12     3,929,217.00    250,000.00    4,179,217.00 -8.01%

(Figures come from Budget Central)

In FY10, the city got its first PILOT payment for the library…and decreased the library budget by 5.6%.  (In the same year, the city budget was flat — it increased by 0.26%.)  The city taxpayers contributed $352,877.29 less for the library.

In FY11, the library saw a slight increase (0.40%) to the library budget, which was due to the increase in PILOT from $80k to $250k.  Again, the city taxpayers paid less to the library — $150,672.42 less than the previous year.

This year — FY12 — sees the library budget decrease by 8% even as the total city budget has actually increased by 3.10%.  Even with $250,000 in PILOT, the library budget has decreased by $363,938.32.

PILOT is most assuredly providing us with necessary funds to keep the library open.

But let’s not pretend that it’s keeping the library even close to level-funded.

The taxpayers of Worcester are paying over $800,000 less than we were four years ago for library services, but our library budget is still down $600,000 from four years ago. 

We’ve been receiving PILOT for three years, and the main library remains closed on Mondays.

PILOT is giving us an excuse to cut library services with a convenient “but we’re getting $250,000 in PILOT” smokescreen.

One can only wonder how much more the library budget will be cut when Clark University begins making PILOT.

(We won’t even note that there was no mention of library services in the $5.7 million surplus.  I am, however, excited by the prospect of a WPD media and communication coordinator.)