The Lafayette City-Parish Council will consider a resolution Tuesday that would drain the public library’s fund balance.
The fund balance, which has been built up by the Library over a period of years, has been earmarked by the Library’s board for new construction and long-term maintenance of existing facilities. Generally, there are two ways to fund new construction: fund balance or issuing bonds – in other words, borrowing money.
Mayor-President Joel Robideaux, who has clashed with Library staff and board on several occasions, is trying again to take $18 million of the Library’s $26 million fund balance. He tried before, but the council revised the figure to $10 million.
Fund balance is not a savings account. It is an accounting term that refers to the difference between what is spent and what is collected, and government accounting standards require that entities like the Library – or the City-Parish – keep a certain amount of money in the fund balance. The amount is based on the annual cost of operations for the entity. If the taxes are dedicated to capital expenses – construction, equipment, books – then the entity can chose to build up the fund balance for those expenses, or use it to issue bonds (borrow money) that will be paid off with future tax collections.
Since the fund balance was built up with tax money collected from a tax approved by voters to be spent on libraries, any change in the use of the money must be approved by voters.
The resolution on the agenda seeks to place the item on the October ballot.
This afternoon, the Library’s executive director posted the following on her personal Facebook page: