Less Traffic Tickets Means Less Revenue for Libraries
Throughout the pandemic people have been traveling less, and it’s resulted in less penal fines in Michigan. With less travel comes less traffic tickets, and that means less money for Michigan libraries.
Michigan is the only state in the country who’s constitution guarantees money from penal fines be given to libraries. For some, that could mean thousands of dollars. “We took a big hit last year,” said Petoskey District Library, Val Meyerson. “For example, in 2019 we took in close to $80,000 in penal fine revenue. 2020 however, it was closer to $70,000. It was about $66,000. So we took about a 17 percent reduction in our penal fine revenue.”
Penal fines make up only six percent of the Petoskey District Library’s revenue, but Meyerson says others may face a harder time maintaining their budget. “If other libraries have a higher percentage of their overall revenue coming from a penal fine source, it makes it really hard to continue to operate the way they regularly do because they’re counting on that money.”
The Charlevoix Public Library saw a decrease in penal fine revenue last year, and they’re expecting even less next year. “Certainly any loss of income is of concern and we do need to look at ways to make sure we’re balancing it,” said Director of the Charlevoix Public Library, Ryan Deery. “Whether that is looking at other revenue streams, looking toward fundraising, or whether it is reducing some of our expenses.”
Both libraries say they are preparing for another reduction in revenue this year.