By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal
By Dec. 31, 2013, Covidien is leaving Commerce — and with it, approximately 20 percent of the city’s revenue.
Commerce City Manager Marc Clayton said he has been preparing for the hit for a while. Part of that preparation included cuts to the city’s annual budget, which was passed in the Sept. 18, 2012 Commerce City Council meeting. One of the budget cuts included a $14,000 cut to the city’s contribution to the Commerce Public Library.
“None of us relish this,” he said. “We have drastically reduced our budget.”
According to Mike Roberts, a library volunteer, in order to keep the library’s accreditation with the Texas State Library Commission, half of the library’s funding needs to come from the city. The maximum amount of money that the city council could cut from their contribution to the library’s budget is $5,000, if the library is to keep its accreditation, Roberts said.
“We can manage within that range,” Roberts said.
Councilmember Sue Davis agreed with Clayton, and added the city is doing this out of necessity for Commerce to maintain its other services.
“We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place with not having money and keeping [their] accreditation,” she said.
Following the Sept. 18 meeting, Clayton said that the council could revisit the issue in the future and potentially change the budget via a budget amendment. In a workshop meeting on Jan. 23, Clayton told the council that unless a councilmember requested that a discussion item regarding the library be placed on the city council’s agenda, it would not be placed on the agenda.
If the accreditation is lost, Gayle Gordon, director of the library, said the library would lose access to the TexShare databases, the interlibrary loan system and several grants the library receives from the state.
“We borrow between 70 and 100 books per year from the loan system,” she said. “We would lose our opportunity to receive grants from the Texas State Library. The TexShare databases cost about $200 with accreditation. Without accreditation, they would be around $43,000 per year.”
The library recently received a grant to purchase computers for the library for citizens who don’t have access to a computer or the Internet. Gordon said the library would not be able to purchase new ones in the future if accreditation was lost.
“A lot of people that come in and use the computers aren’t able to afford one at home,” she said.
As it stands, if the city council does not pass a budget amendment, the library would lose its accreditation by August of 2014.