SEMINOLE COUNTY -- Seminole County leaders are considering a plan that would put the day-to-day operation of the county’s public libraries into the hands of a private company.
- County leaders explore privatizing libraries
- Leaders looking for ways to cut costs
- Residents have already expressed concern
County officials say they are exploring the idea to see if it would cut costs, but so far they say the plan has drawn some criticism.
Seminole County leaders say they want to see if a private company could run the libraries at a lower cost.
County leaders continue to look for ways to cut costs, as they anticipate a potential funding shortfall if Florida voters approve a homestead exemption measure on November’s ballot.
If approved, the county would collect less property tax money, and its budget would shrink by millions.
County leaders say dozens of people have already reached out to the county expressing concern about what they fear will be an outsourcing of the county’s current library services.
An official with the county’s leisure services, which is the department that runs the library system, says the county will only consider using a private company if that company can at least maintain the level of service the libraries currently provide.
Daniel Sherman uses the county’s north branch in downtown Sanford to correspond with potential clients for his business, Consumer R&D.
“Ultimately where I can get Wi-Fi is where I can do business,” Sherman said.
Sherman says he can see where some people would be concerned about a possible privatization of library operations.
“There is a measure of worry based on the greed an organization or company can have in providing a service to consumers,” he said.
Sherman says as long as the county continues to own the libraries and can have a say in how they’re run, he’s okay with the plan.
“If that happens, then the community can express their concerns to the county,” he said.
Seminole County is expected to accept bids from private companies in June, and then county leaders will be able to consider whether it’s worth it or not to privatize library operations.
County commissioners would likely not make a decision on the matter until late July or August at the earliest.