Bethlehem is facing a major financial deficit for 2013. In order to bridge any gaps associated with the deficit, more costs relating to the Bethlehem Public Library are being passed on to member municipalities.
According to the Rick Prill, Fountain Hill borough administrator, the library board has recommended that the per capita rate/charge for 2013 be increased from $17.03 to $17.25.
At a string of meetings throughout the month of November, many municipal governing boards, including Fountain Hill's, met to discuss the library's budget at great length. One expense the library would like to share is its building's utilities costs, which have been paid for by the City of Bethlehem. That cost, estimated at $90,286, now must be covered by all municipal partners.
In addition to the utilities of the library, the cost of the insurance for the library would also be shared. The City of Bethlehem has paid the $22,000 to cover yearly insurance costs.
At one of the meetings revolving around the shared costs William Reynolds, a Bethlehem City councilman and member of the library board, as well as Joseph Kelly, director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Bethlehem, argued that the entire cost of running the library should be shared equally by all five partnering municipalities. However, they are aware that the additional financial burdens incurred would have to be openly discussed by all five representatives.
Leaders of several municipalities have raised concerns especially in regard to the utility usage of the library. It was suggested that if the municipalities were to take part in this agreement there would need to be a way to measure the library's utility usage. Insurance details also need to be disclosed to the partnering municipalities.
Although the future of the library remains in concern to the City of Bethlehem the general consensus of the representatives of the municipalities was not to increase the per capita for 2013. The municipalities assumed the position that the City and library should move to cut costs in order to maintain the $17.03 cost per capita.