ShareThis Page
State money brings relief to Westmoreland libraries |

State money brings relief to Westmoreland libraries

The Associated Press
| Friday, March 18, 2016 11:00 p.m
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
The Greensburg Hempfield Area Library on March 17, 2016.

Westmoreland County libraries are breathing a sigh of relief after receiving state funds last month as part of the stopgap spending plan passed in lieu of a full state budget, but some are still dealing with shaky finances and the murky fiscal future.

“We were biting our fingernails, but we were OK,” said Linda Matey, director of the Greensburg Hempfield Area Library.

The state sent $956,920 to be distributed among Westmoreland County’s 24 libraries. Most libraries received their money in February, about a month later than usual.

The state also gave $276,695 to the Westmoreland Federated Library System, the over-arching network that provides services and support for the libraries. These funds were usually paid in July and arrived about six months late.

“It was a huge relief, because we all had to make contingency plans on what to do, and how to handle it. There were a lot of libraries that would have run out of money,” said Cesare Muccari, executive director of the library network.

The delays caused by the state budget impasse meant some libraries were unable to plan fully for this year, officials said.

“That made January kind of an uncomfortable month,” said Tracy Trotter, director of Adams Memorial Library in Latrobe.

The library’s board didn’t approve raises for any staff members this year, because they didn’t know how much money they would receive, Trotter said.

“Without knowing for sure, it makes it impossible to plan. You can’t promise people money and then not give it to them,” she said.

The board will meet this month to discuss pay raises now that the state money has come through.

The county’s libraries serve about 106,000 cardholders.

“The demand does not go away, whether we have funding or don’t have funding. The people who need us are still here,” Trotter said.

There is a silver lining to having funds delayed — libraries received slightly more state aid this year than they were expecting, Muccari said.

A $940,000 payment to be split among libraries was expected this year, and $270,000 was expected for the network.

“That’s the first time in many, many years that we’ve received an increase at all,” Muccari said.

The extra funding may help libraries that have struggled for several years.

Adams Memorial’s budget has shrunk about $100,000 since 2012 because Unity eliminated its support and the Westmoreland County network changed how it distributed state aid, Trotter said. The budget is now about $660,535.

The Jeannette Public Library was closed in December and January because of the delayed state funds and because its own money ran out.

“We received the state money, so we’re back in business for the moment. We’re here because of that,” said Director Hope Sehring.

The library exhausted its $155,000 budget by late November. Officials are trying to keep costs lower this year but have not set a budget, Sehring said. She doesn’t know what the rest of the year holds.

“That’s a long way off, isn’t it? December 2016 is a long way off. We’re a library, and it’s very hard to be a fundraising organization first,” she said.

Planning for the future is further complicated by the continued drama in Harrisburg, where legislators are debating the last budget and next one at the same time.

“What a way to do business. We don’t know what they’re going to do. Does anyone really?” Sehring said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646 or

Categories: Westmoreland
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.