PCB Public Library may close an extra day to save money
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) — Running a city isn’t easy, and it isn’t cheap. Panama City Beach leaders combed through proposed budget plans for next year, determining what needs a little extra funding and what things could be done with a little less money. Looks like they’re taking over the Panama City Beach Public Library on Hutchison Blvd. considered for certain cuts.
For now, the library is open to the public from Monday to Saturday. But the city is looking to cut funding by about $15,000 in next year’s budget, so it’s considering closing the gates one more day a week.
Library cardholder Maria Elisa Ramirez knows where to go when her kids have questions and she’s looking for answers.
“When my five-year-old comes up with these questions that only a five-year-old can ask,” Ramirez said. “She was very interested in clouds. I ask one of the ladies, we want to know more about clouds because we don’t have all the knowledge. So they point us in the right direction for his age and reading a book that talks about cloud making and I think that’s fantastic.
The library is a center of knowledge and services that not everyone has at home.
“It’s a place where students and disadvantaged people can access the same research materials and research materials as anyone else,” said library card holder Jack Smith.
But keeping doors open and materials accessible doesn’t come free. According to Debbie Ingram, director of communications for the city of Panama City Beach, the city contributes about $200,000 each year to fund the library. This year, the library requested an increase, bringing it to $222,000.
At the recent budget meeting, the councilman looked at different ways to make cuts. The city plans to increase opening days from six days a week to five, which would save money, but has also disappointed some cardholders.
“We put up with all the tourists and the inconvenience because it’s all revenue generating and some of that revenue needs to come back locally and it’s about as local as it gets. A local library,” Smith said. “So yeah, taking a day without that, I think is the worst idea I’ve heard.”
Officials said they would remain open on Saturday no matter what so those who are working can still have a day ahead. But for some, the library and work go hand in hand.
“It would reduce access to the internet, to printing, to the printed word,” said library card holder Jim Osborne.
But no reduction has yet been finalized. As for when they plan to close, that has still not been decided.
City officials said they are also considering other private entities to help fund the library and have even considered creating a foundation for it.
City leaders will approve the budget plans at the next city council meeting on September 8.
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