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Commissioners Relent; Library To Get Increase, Not Cut

SANATOGA PA – In what Lower Pottsgrove Manager Ed Wagner described Tuesday (Jan. 21, 2014) as “a step in a positive direction,” the township Board of Commissioners announced it intends to reverse a Jan. 6 proposal to cut its annual contribution to the Pottstown Regional Public Library, and instead increase it by $2,875.

Library Lawn Signs Sprout Across Lower Pottsgrove

Library promotional signs like these, which last July could be seen at several homes across Lower Pottsgrove Township, have a chance of returning in 2014

The new amount to be given to the library on behalf of township residents who are its patrons, if approved during the board’s Feb. 3 meeting, would be $62,875. Additionally, Wagner said the board pledged to continue funding the township’s portion of the library summer reading program, in the amount of $2,125.

Board approval is anticipated to be unanimous. A majority of commissioners who originally supported the cut – Bruce Foltz, Stephen Klotz and Shawn Watson – agree with the change, Wagner indicated, and the two remaining commissioners – Jonathan Spadt and James Kaiser – were early advocates of enlarging the library gift.

The new library donation represents a compromise for all involved.

The 2014 budget approved by commissioners in December contained a $5,000 increase in library funding, and the summer reading money too, for a total package of $67,125. Shortly after the board’s political makeup changed Jan. 1, plans to cut the package by $10,000, to $57,125, created substantial public outcry over several weeks. A group of library supporters expected to arrive Thursday (Jan. 23) at the board’s meeting to voice their opposition.

They still may, but Wagner acknowledged Tuesday commissioners wanted to avoid a crowd critique. Their substitute increase represents a 4.7-percent hike over last year’s contribution of $60,000, better than the year’s rate of inflation, while still trimming $2,125 from the original $5,000 raise. And by retaining summer reading, the board can legitimately report it has supported the library to the tune of $65,000.

The library wins because, excluding summer reading, the donation it receives per township resident (Lower Pottsgrove’s official census population is 12,059) would rise from $4.97 last year to $5.21. It would have gotten $5.39 per resident had the original budgeted amount been kept.

Public reaction on social media outlets to the board’s reported change of heart was immediately favorable.

Under the “amended final” budget to be voted upon Feb. 3, Wagner said, money for the library constitutes the only revision to other changes sought by Foltz, Klotz and Watson. Their proposals to also increase police department funding and manpower, eliminate the job of township assistant manager, add duties and increase salaries for some staff members, and raise its donation to the Pottstown Area Seniors Center are expected to proceed as outlined.

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Jan. 6 meeting):

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