The hits just keep coming for the Kanawha County Library System.
Late last month the library was notified that it had failed to comply with a state Library Commission policy that regulates expenditure levels over time: last fiscal year, the library failed to spend more than, or the same amount as, the average of the amount they had in the three prior years.
That's because the library sharply cut expenditures this year, after their fiscal situation was left uncertain by a state Supreme Court ruling that found the decades-old law that forced the school system to fund the library was unconstitutional.
That left the library system scrambling to right its finances, looking to come up with nearly $3.8 million, 40 percent of its operating budget.
The school system agreed to fund the library at a reduced level voluntarily for a year, but the outlook from there is uncertain.
The library board made a number of cuts in response -- like cutting Sunday hours, canceling its annual book festival and leaving open 20 vacant positions -- while it struggled to find a more stable funding mechanism. Administrators were able to cut costs that way, but it also led the library to violate this library commission policy.
The penalty is a cut in the library's state grant that is equal in percentage to the percent the library failed to meet its target: the library missed its target by $173,124, or nearly 3 percent. That's a cut in state-aid of more than $25,000.
"I know fiscal year 2013 was a very difficult year for the KCPL and the library administration was very conservative regarding expenditures," Library Commission Secretary Karen Goff wrote to the library board when notifying them of the violation. "Hope that situation will not be repeated."
The library has submitted a request for a waiver this year, and administrators are hopeful it will be granted.