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Saturday October 25th 2014

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Library ‘Crisis’

According to Bette Hooten, president of the West Florida Library System, the regional collection of libraries are in “crisis mode.”

“I cannot tell you how frightened I am for this system,” she said.

Escambia County commissioners will consider if they will yank $3.7 million in funding from the library system. The move is in reaction to a recently passed law at the state level which retroactively charges counties for what state officials say are shortfalls in Medicaid bills going back to 2001—this resulted in a nearly $10 million shortfall for Escambia County.

“There are no easy answers,” said Escambia County Administrator Randy Oliver, explaining that the cut has to be made up somehow. “Difficult times require difficult solutions.”

Currently, Escambia County funds more than 70 percent of the library system’s budget. The city of Pensacola provides just under $2 million in funding.

The Escambia County Commission will consider how to handle the county budget shortfall and library funding April 12. The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. at the county’s downtown complex. Library supporters are expected to attend—wearing red shirts—en masse.

– check back at 4 p.m. today for the complete story