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.)

2 thoughts on “How PILOT (didn’t) help the library

  1. Tracy Novick says:

    I thought of that. It would seem like a good time for an infusion for buying new books.

  2. Jim Kersten says:

    To make a fair comparison, one should look at all line items and services provided by the City. Everything took a huge cut and many good programs ended.

    To assume the library’s funding level went down because of the infusion of PILOT money is not something I would totally agree with. The budget for the library was going to be cut and it was going to function on a limited schedule and the PILOT money helped ease the impact. I do however think that Nicole brings up a good point that we all need to keep an eye on, and that is to make sure that PILOT money enhances the services in the City and not play a shell game with funds.

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