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Library system struggling to fill budget gap

Halifax County-South Boston Public Library Board members met Tuesday only to learn the libraries are facing a $67,358 deficit in the upcoming budget year.

Although board members were scheduled to approve the 2012-2013 budget, that didn’t happen Tuesday.

Following a lengthy discussion behind closed doors, members tabled action on approving the budget until a special called meeting is held July 2.

Next year’s library budget, as presented Tuesday, totals $402,478 with most funds coming from localities including $175,000 contributed by the Halifax County Board of Supervisors and $62,000 from South Boston Town Council. 

An additional $120,525 comes from the state and a minimal amount from federal government.

With a heavy heart, Library Director Joe Zappacosta said the $67,358 deficit has forced board members to consider taking drastic actions of cutting staff.

The library board has to look at the whole picture, and a vast majority of the budget goes to paying salaries, so making personnel cuts may be necessary, he said.

“There have been no final decisions made on how to balance the budget at this time,” Zappacosta added. “Many options are being explored, and nothing has been decided at this time.” 

In other business Tuesday, board members unanimously approved Bee Edmunds Espy to serve as board chairman and Hope Harris-Gayles to serve as vice chairman for the upcoming year. 

Shirley McCaleb will continue to serve as the board’s secretary, and Jewel Giles will serve as the assistant secretary. 

Current board Chairman Lisa Crews will continue to serve on the board.

According to Crews, Meredith Bowman will no longer serve on the board, and Rebecca Donner will replace her by appointment of South Boston Town Council.

Board members went into closed session to discuss personnel who may be affected by budget cuts, and when they emerged, further discussion on the budget was tabled.

A special called meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. at the Halifax Public Library July 2 to further discuss the budget and different possibilities on how to balance it for the upcoming year.