After 6 decades, Altamonte Springs Library will check in its last book in September

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – The City of Altamonte Springs announced this week that the library on Maitland Avenue will be closing this year after more than six decades of service to the community.

The post, which was made on the city’s Facebook page, has since received more than 200 comments and it has been shared more than 100 times. People online were quick to question why this decision was made.

News 6 spoke with City Manager Frank Martz to get some perspective.

“We have run it for about 40 years, and we’ve been able to do that because the expenses that we face today aren’t expenses that we faced then,” said Martz.

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The post made by the city says the decision was not made “lightly.”

“With budget constraints, rising costs, and five quality Seminole County libraries around us, we have made the hard decision to close the doors and consolidate resources,” it said.

The Seminole County Public Library has five branches, but none of them are in Altamonte Springs itself.

Martz explained that about three weeks ago the city received its final property tax numbers, essentially the amount of new revenue that they’re going to have in the coming year.

“We started crunching the numbers and we started looking at how much the increase has been for property insurance and electric, and the cost of law enforcement, and those types of things that we have to pay for out of our general fund have gone up more than the new revenue that we have,” said Martz. “So, some things have to be cut, and we’re cutting quite a few things.”

Martz says the library costs $600,000 every year to run.

“It is a relatively old building,” said Martz. “We recently had some hurricane damage to it. We did some renovations. Those renovations were really remediations.”

Martz acknowledges the significance the library has to the community and the staff there, along with its place in Altamonte Springs’ history.

A group met at the library Tuesday after news of the closure broke to discuss what happened and what, if anything, could be done about it.

Eric Soto says he changed his vacation plans to attend because his community is important to him.

“We moved here in 1983. One of my first memories is coming to this library and getting a library card,” said Soto. “I have six kids and all of my kids have come to this library.”

Soto says it’s difficult to hear that it will not be there for future generations.

“I wonder, well, where is all of the money going?” asked Soto.

Lindsey Huber says she brings her children to the library on a weekly basis.

“My son looks forward to coming here,” said Huber. “I mean, this is the closest library to my home, and this has been here for years. I don’t understand it.”

Martz says the city is focusing on immediate needs now, including continuing service for the next three months. Residents will be able to check out books through August and must return them by Sept. 15. The city will look into what happens with the building and the materials at the library next.

Martz says there are plans to open another library in Altamonte in the future.

“Because we’re going to have a new city hall at some point, we have a way to bring this back,” said Martz. “The challenge is we have to have a balanced budget now, and we don’t have enough money without the cuts we are making.”

Martz says the library is paid for with money in the city’s general fund, which also funds law enforcement, recreation programs, etc.

“We have to fund property insurance. We have to fund the cost of chlorine increases. We have a large utility,” said Martz. “And those increases have all grown more than our revenue.”

“This is math,” said Martz. “There’s not enough money to pay for the stuff that we have to pay for, and we start with our law enforcement, our police officers, the safety of our community.”

Martz says his office has received many more questions about the decision to close the library, including concerns about money spent on “Crane Rides,” the autonomous shuttles around the Cranes Roost area.

“Those are being funded by transportation dollars that cannot be used for things like libraries. They can only be used for transportation,” said Martz.

The library will close officially on Sept. 30, 2024.

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