BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Dozens of public libraries in Erie County are trying to make ends meet after a major loss of funding.
When County Executive Mark Poloncarz was running for his current job last year, he did so under the platform that cultural and community groups would be a priority. Now, leaders of Erie County libraries are making sure Poloncarz follows through on his word with their "Turn The Lights Back On" campaign.
At libraries across the county, residents who use their local library branch were asked to fill out a postcard asking for funding and increased hours.
Patron Lakesha Johnson said, "I think they should do all they can to fight and get their money. They have a right to get the money that's due to them, and to keep this library open. This is a great place for people to come."
In order to restore hours, library trustees are requesting $3.6 million in funding for next year. That would be a dramatic increase from the four-year plan put out by Poloncarz' office in April, which showed a one percent, $200,000 library increase.
Erie County Library Director Mary Jean Jakubowski said, "We've lost 5,100 open hours on an annual basis across all of your free public libraries since 2010 because the funding we've received from Erie County is not stable. It's like riding a roller coaster."
More than 5,000 postcards were collected and then delivered by hand to Poloncarz' Rath Building office.
Poloncarz Press Secretary Peter Anderson said, "The County Executive is certainly aware of the importance to libraries in our communities. He is continuing in discussions with the library. But this is a budgetary item and we won't be discussing budgetary items prior to the release of the budget later this month."
Poloncarz' budget proposal will go before the Erie County Legistaure October 15.
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