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County slashes funding to area libraries

For the past three years, libraries across Canadian County have benefited from the income that has been derived through the county’s Educational Facilities Authority.
They will continue to do so this year, although the amount of funding is being reduced by more than half.
The three county commissioners, acting Monday as the trustees for the educational facilities panel, said they would provide just over $30,000 to the county’s four libraries.
Last year, the group received almost $70,000.
The money was used to help fund library programs, purchase books, help pay for operations and, in the case of Mustang, help fund the salary of a part-time employee.
Julie Slupe, the Mustang library director, said the loss of funds will be spread across the libraries in Yukon, Mustang, El Reno and Piedmont.
In Mustang, the cuts will mean the elimination of an employee.
“Her last day is June 30,” said Slupe.
“This is disheartening. It will mean less programming because we will have fewer people. We can only spread ourselves so far,” she said.
Yukon, which has the largest library in the county, stands to lose the largest amount of funds, followed by Mustang.
Sara Schieman, Yukon’s librarian, was out of town Monday and unable to attend the Authority’s meeting.

The reduction in funding is the result of a decision in December by the panel to return excess funds to the school districts from which the money was received.
The panel returned more than $967,000.
The authority helps school districts earn low-interest loans for bond projects.
Recently, the Yukon School District used the organization for the first time to obtain bond money that will allow for the completion of a new intermediate school that is being funded by a 2017 bond issue.
By borrowing the money through the authority, the district is able to complete the project more quickly.
In return, the district will pay the authority a fee. That fee is capped at $5,000. Until 2018, the fees were based on a percentage of the loan.
Since 2009, when the authority began offering its services, more than $1 million had grown in the account.
In December, the panel voted to return most of those funds to the schools, keeping only a small portion needed to pay its bills.
Originally, the commissioners voted to keep $20,000 on hand. Monday, they agreed to drop that amount to $10,000 so that more money would be available to the libraries.
The authority also receives some earnings on loans that are still being paid off, but where the projects have been completed.
The account now has about $43,229.87 available. Of that amount, $33,229.87 will be distributed to the libraries.
The commissioners began providing funds to the libraries about four years ago. The funding was based on 50 cents per person.
Canadian County is the fastest growing county in Oklahoma, thus the amount of funding has continued to grow.
District 1 Commissioner Marc Hader said the money was never meant to be a permanent source of revenue for the libraries.
“We have never made the commitment that we would give the same amount next year. Actually, we don’t have the money to give that money this year. I love your heart, and I would love to, but we don’t have those resources,” said Hader.
Commissioner Jack Stewart said he wants to continue funding the library consortium because the libraries serve everyone, not just children.
“If we can do it, we need to get the money back into the library system,” Stewart said.
The money will be distributed to the libraries before June 30, which is the end of the fiscal year.

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