UPPER MARLBORO — The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) and Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) came before the Prince George’s County Council’s Education and Workforce Development Committee during a work session for their fiscal year 2020 budgets to request more funding on April 17.
Both halves of the meeting began with Financial Auditor Inez Claggett from the county Office of Audits and Investigations presenting an overview of the budget to the committee members that included the total budget, the revenues, and expenses for the operating and capital budgets and aspects of where the funds will be utilized.
According to Claggett, PGCMLS will see some increase in almost all aspects of their budget for fiscal year 2020. Their total budget consists of $32 million, a $1.2 million increase from fiscal year 2019 driven by an increase in contributions from the county, state aid and the library system’s use of fund balance.
According to Claggett, the revenues and expenditures for the library system will see modest growth next year and “the memorial library does anticipate maintaining their expenditures within their appropriated revenue levels for fiscal year 19 and fiscal year 20 as they modernize their branches.”
The proposed contribution from the county is $23.3 million, a 3.9 percent increase from the previous year. County contributions make up 72 percent of the entire budget, followed by state aid, interest revenue, fines and fees, and miscellaneous revenues.
PGCMLS has gone through several changes recently. At the beginning of the year, they brought in a new CEO, Roberta Phillips, who comes from an extensive library background and previously served as their as director of planning and projects for the Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina.
The county library system has been in the process of renovating their libraries as well.
Despite delays in the process, the most recent reopening was the New Carrollton Branch on Sept. 26. The new library contains many meeting and study rooms, technology upgrades and an expansive children’s section.
The next library in the works for construction is the Hyattsville branch which has been operating in a temporary location for two years. The library now has a timeline for completion with construction planned to be done by December 2020 and the grand opening taking place in either February or March 2021, said Chief Operating Officer for Support Services Michael Gannon at the committee meeting.
The main issue for PGCMLS going into fiscal year 2020 is staffing, Phillips said. A significant portion of PGCMLS expenditures for fiscal year 2020 will go towards staffing at $18.7 million, according to Claggett, but Phillips says the system requires more staff and more people moving over from part-time to full-time positions to keep up with the demand. She said that the current budget includes 19 unfunded positions, including the development director, and asked the council for at least 15 of them to be restored.
“We’re open 944 hours a week, and we still have customers saying why isn’t every branch open on Fridays,” Phillips said. “In order to do these things, we need staff.”
In addition to expanded hours, the extra staff will allow PGCMLS to fill key positions required to secure corporate funds and reinstate their foundation. The foundation will help to advocate for donor participation and help the library be at the forefront of innovation for the system.
Councilmember Tom Dernoga, who served as president of Friends of the Laurel Library for seven years, echoed the sentiment that more staff is much needed.
“There is a tremendous need and we should look at the question what would it take,” he said.
Claggett reviewed the budget for PGCC as well and reported that their total fiscal year 2020 budget totals $124 million, a six million increase from last year.
Most of their revenue will come from the county at $43.7 million, which is 35 percent of the budget, followed by 25 percent of their revenue coming from state aid and 31 percent coming from tuition. Their total operating expenses total $33 million; however, their funding for employee compensation is down $1.3 million because of anticipated vacancies in the next fiscal year.
Claggett noted that while full-time student enrollment is up slightly and non-credit class enrollment is down, there is no proposed tuition increase for the coming year.
However, PGCC came to ask the county council for more funding.
President Charlene Dukes said that their request is two-fold: they asked that the county council consider an additional $1.7 million on top of the funds requested from the county executive, and asked for an additional $9 million in operating fees which will help the construction of the Largo Student Center.
“At a glance, someone would say the college is pretty much whole, they got 99.5 percent of what they requested, but we’re sitting before you to tell you that we don’t see it quite in that light because again we don’t feel as it stands right now that we’re actually experiencing the gains that the state provided to us,” Dukes said.
PGCC received an unexpected $1.7 million from the state which “softened the landing from the reduced county support,” but it is not enough, Dukes said.
The school submitted the funding that would be needed for the Largo Student Center to the council at an earlier date. However, it was severely underestimated.
The hope is to add a third floor to the student center which will drive up the cost. The plan is still under review by the state.
Additionally, Vice President for Administration and Financial Services Terri Bacote-Charles said that funding from the county has been in a steady decline over the years.
From 2017 to 2018, the county represented 99 percent of the funding difference between those years, but from 2019 to 2020 they are giving only 16 percent.
PGCC representatives asked that the county council look at the great things that the college has been able to do for the county and consider giving more funding.
Board of Directors Chair Howard Stone said the school does “amazing things that affect all citizens” such as workforce development and recreation in addition to education. He called the school an economic engine for the county as they contributed $644 million to the county economy in recent years and have created 8,186 jobs.